Paul Pogba hoped his move to Juventus would be a fresh start, but already the midfielder is facing the worrying possibility he could miss the World Cup.

Leaving Manchester United and returning to Turin looked set to be a switch that would allow Pogba to set aside a difficult time in England, where he was plagued by injuries.

However, a knee problem has hit Pogba in the early weeks of his second spell with Juventus, and reports on Thursday in Italy pointed to possible bleak news ahead for the France midfielder, who was a key figure as Les Bleus won the World Cup four years ago in Russia.

Pogba complained of his injury while with Juventus in the United States, and initial checks led Juventus to announce he had suffered a lesion of the lateral meniscus.

The injury to his right knee means Pogba is sure to face a spell on the sidelines, and now it remains to be seen how long that lasts.

It depends on what course of action is taken, and Corriere dello Sport reported that Pogba would see a specialist on Thursday.

The newspaper said there were two options that would be considered, with the first involving the removal of the damaged part of the meniscus and the second focusing on fully repairing the knee. Those are the standard options for repairing a torn meniscus.

The initial path could see Pogba sidelined for around six weeks, reports said, but the secondary option could see him ruled out of action for the rest of the calendar year.

Juventus have yet to give any indication of how long they expect to be without Pogba.

Pogba, 29, spent four years at Juventus between 2012 and 2016, winning four Serie A titles in that period before moving to United for a then world record fee of £89.3million (€105million).

The World Cup begins on November 21 in Qatar, and France boss Didier Deschamps would want 91-cap Pogba to have proven his fitness well in advance of the tournament getting under way.

Green Bay Packers All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari barely played last season, and there’s no telling when he’ll be healthy enough to take the field this coming season after he had another procedure on his left knee.

The latest procedure would be at least the third known surgery since Bakhtiari suffered a torn left ACL on New Year’s Eve 2020.

Bakhtiari has played just one game since the original injury, and that came in the regular-season finale at Detroit on January 9 before he was shut down for the playoffs. He was placed on the physically unable to perform list Wednesday as the Packers opened training camp.

Bakhtiari attended the Packers’ offseason program but did not practice, and instead worked off to the side with the rest of the players rehabbing injuries.

''It's a nightmare, my nightmare that I have to live,'' Bakhtiari said. ''I don't know how many days it's been, but I'm just excited to wake up (from the nightmare) one day.''

The Packers remain hopeful that Bakhtiari will be ready for the season opener at Minnesota on September 11.

''I think we're cautiously optimistic,'' general manager Brian Gutekunst said.

Clearly, the Packers are going to take a cautious approach with Bakhtiari, who was playing well enough to earn first-team All-Pro honours for a second time when he originally hurt the knee. His first surgery came after the 2020 season, before the second procedure to reduce swelling in the knee during the 2021 regular season.

''Everyone loves timelines,'' Bakhtiari said. ''When I'm ready, I'll be out there. What I can say is I do feel really good. I really like –  I feel normal.

"My knee feels normal and that's the biggest plus. Now it's just getting that normal feeling again when I play football, so that's what it is, the load, stress, strength, but we're not really in an ACL issue. That's actually been a long time ago that we put that chapter to bed.''

With Bakhtiari unavailable for either of Green Bay's past two playoff losses, the Packers allowed five sacks in each of those games.

Green Bay faces the possibility of opening this season without its two best offensive linemen. Elgton Jenkins is also attempting to come back from an ACL tear he suffered on November 21 against Minnesota.

The New York Yankees have acquired outfielder Andrew Benintendi from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for three minor leaguers.

New York has been looking for an outfield bat with Giancarlo Stanton going on the injured list recently and Joey Gallo continuing his season-long struggles.

Benintendi, a first-time All-Star this season, was among the better rental bats available and is a free agent after this season. He is batting .321 with three home runs and 39 RBIs in 92 games for the Royals.

The left-handed hitting Benintendi spent his first five seasons with the Boston Red Sox before he was traded to Kansas City in February 2021.

He was one of 10 players that were unable to play in Kansas City’s recent series in Toronto because he is unvaccinated. The Yankees have three games remaining in Toronto this season.

The Yankees own the best record in the majors at 66-33 but have lost 12 of their past 20 games.

Despite missing a pair of National League MVP candidates, the St Louis Cardinals rode a big performance from future Hall-of-Famer Albert Pujols to a 6-1 away win against the Toronto Blue Jays.

With both Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado unavailable for their side's trip to Toronto due to their vaccination status, it was a combination of new blood and a blast from the past as they made it look easy.

40-year-old starting pitcher Adam Wainwright was at the peak of his powers, giving up just five hits and no walks for one earned run in seven innings, striking out eight batters. 

While Wainwright controlled the contest with the ball, 42-year-old Pujols made noise with the bat, knocking a single in his first at-bat, a double in his second try, and then a massive 439-foot, three-run homer with his third trip to the plate. It was longer than any home run Pujols hit in this year's Home Run Derby.

Rookie Nolan Gorman – 20 years younger than Pujols – also went deep with a solo home run, while he and 24-year-old Lars Nootbaar were two of five Cardinals to collect multiple hits.

Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr finished two-for-four at the plate, while ace pitcher Kevin Gausman struggled in one of his worst performances of the season. 

Gausman gave up five runs in less than five innings, allowing eight hits and a walk with his six strikeouts.

Mets walk-off against Yankees

The New York Mets threatened to waste a spectacular start from pitcher Max Scherzer, but ultimately got the job done in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat the New York Yankees 3-2 in walk-off fashion.

Pete Alonso's solo home run in the second inning and Francisco Lindor's RBI single in the third frame were the only runs before Max Scherzer was withdrawn, having pitched seven shut-out innings.

As soon as Scherzer was removed, the Yankees came back with a two-run homer from Gleyber Torres, but Eduardo Escobar led off the ninth inning with a double, setting up Starling Marte to be the hero and drive him in with a base hit.

J-Rod does it again for the Mariners

Rookie All-Star Julio Rodriguez showed once again why he is one of the most exciting young talents in all of baseball, blasting a three-run home run to give his Seattle Mariners a 4-2 home win against the Texas Rangers.

Rodriguez, 21, stepped up to the plate in the seventh inning with two runners on base, trailing 2-1, and he connected on a 419-foot no-doubter over the left-field wall to snatch back the lead.

This season, Rodriguez leads all rookies in hits (96), runs (54), home runs (17), RBIs (53), and stolen bases (21).

It was smooth sailing for the seeded competitors in action on Wednesday at the Atlanta Open, with Tommy Paul, Frances Tiafoe and Brandon Nakashima all advancing in straight sets.

Fifth seed Paul started the day off with a straightforward 6-3 6-3 win against South Korea's Kwon Soon-woo thanks to a clear advantage with his serving. He won 73 per cent (36-of-49) of his points on serve, while Kwon could only muster 53 per cent (34-of-64).

Paul will meet Belarus' Ilya Ivashka in the quarter-finals after he successfully navigated the challenge of America's Steve Johnson 4-6 6-2 6-4 after Johnson was a late injury replacement for top overall seed Reilly Opelka.

Ivashka is now 6-3 in his nine matches since the French Open, with his only losses against top-five talents Stefano Tsitsipas and twice against Daniil Medvedev.

Fourth seed Tiafoe was impressive against Japan's Taro Daniel, creating eight total break point opportunities, and capitalising on three. 

Tiafoe will play Nakashima in the quarter-finals, with the American surviving a tough first set tiebreaker to eventually defeat Australia's John Millman 7-6 (10-8) 6-4.

In a closely contested match, Nakashima avoided getting into many sticky situations, saving the only break point he faced.

Jamaican Olympian Lacena Golding Clarke sensed that Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan would set a world record during the semi-finals of 100m hurdles on Sunday’s final day of the 2022 World Championships of Athletics in Eugene, Oregon.

Clarke, 47, recruited Amusan from Nigeria in 2016 bringing her to the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) after the then 18-year-old won the 100m hurdles in a time of 14.26 at the Junior African Championships in March 2015.

Since then, she has been the coach and second mother to Amusan, who ran 12.12 in the semi-finals to break the world record of 12.20 that had been held by American Kendra Harrison in July 2016.

Showing it was no fluke, Amusan would go on to win the title in an even faster 12.06 (2.5m/s). The run in the semi-final, Golding-Clarke said, was incredible but looking back, not really unexpected.

“At first it was unbelievable,” said the Golding Clarke who will take up a coaching position at her alma mater Auburn University in the Fall.

“We knew she could come close to running the then world record, we’ve rehearsed it in training a couple of times last year and this year. So, I know what she could do.

“However, I was very happy, excited and pleased because of all the hard work that went into training this season.”

Golding Clarke, the 2002 Commonwealth Games champion, said the work that went into preparing Amusan, the 2018 Commonwealth Games champion, paid off massively.

“This season was the same as before with more speed and rhythm endurance work plus drilling techniques every training day,” she said.

“We focused more on staying healthy, we drilled technique that needed to be taken care of, and, of course, we paid extra attention to her rhythm/speed endurance.”

The proud coach also related that Amusan was driven by the disappointment of finishing fourth at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

In Tokyo, Amusan crossed the line in 12.60 just behind Jamaica’s Megan Tapper 12.550, Harrison 12.520 and gold medallist Jasmine Camacho-Quinn 12.370. According to Clarke, she was motivated to redeem herself in Oregon.

“She wants to be the best she can be; specifically, she wanted to be on the podium, she did not want another fourth place at a global competition so she focused more on herself this time around and executing her race plan,” said Clarke.

The Jamaica coach describes the relationship between her and Amusan as being like family.

“The relationship is more like a mother/daughter type,” she said.

“Her mom sent her far away from home to get her education and to run track for the University of Texas at El Paso and so as a coach, I am her family away from home.

“Tobi is a dedicated and hard-working person, very persistent. She is sometimes goofy with persons she calls friends, very friendly and nice to speak with but mostly a loner.”

So sweet was the moment Amusan set the world record that not even the unfortunate comments from Michael Johnson, the multiple Olympic gold medallist and former 200m and 400m world-record holder, could ruin the occasion for Golding Clarke and her 24-year-old charge.

Johnson, who was a pundit during the championships, suggested that the timing system had malfunctioned during the semi-finals of the 100m hurdles. His comments drew the ire of Nigerians on social media. Golding scoffed at the comments.

“I really thought it very absurd,” she said.

“I did not really pay it any mind because that would take away from the joy of winning and breaking the world record.”

Dominic Thiem battled his way into the quarter-finals of the Austrian Open at the expense of compatriot Sebastian Ofner on Wednesday.

Thiem reached his first semi-final since May 2021 at the Swiss Open last week and is looking to make further strides on home soil this week, having endured an injury nightmare.

The 2020 US Open champion made it through to the last eight in Kitzbuhel but had to dig deep for a 6-2 3-6 6-3 victory over qualifier Ofner.

Thiem only lost one point in the opening two games and wrapped up the first set in commanding fashion, but Ofner claimed the only break of the second set to force a decider.

The former world number three twice came from a break down in the final set to ensure he will face Yannick Hanfmann for a place in the semi-finals.

Seeds Aslan Karatsev and Joao Sousa bowed out, losing to Dusan Lajovic and Jiri Lehecka respectively.

Spanish trio Roberto Bautista Agut, Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Pedro Martinez advanced in straight sets.

Two of the top five seeds were knocked out of the Croatia Open, with Holger Rune and Alex Molcan falling in the round of 16.

Bernabe Zapata Miralles got the better of third seed Rune 3-6 6-3 6-2, while Roberto Carballes Baena ousted Molcan 3-6 6-2 6-3. Jannik Sinner and Giulio Zeppieri secured their quarter-final spots in Umag.

The San Francisco 49ers released defensive end Dee Ford on Wednesday, ending the former Pro Bowler's three-year tenure with the team that was often marred by injuries.

Signed to a five-year, $85.5million contract by San Francisco in 2019, Ford appeared in just seven games over the last two seasons and 18 total regular-season contests in that three-year period.

The 49ers acquired Ford from the Kansas City Chiefs in March 2019 in exchange for a 2020 second-round pick. The 31-year-old recorded 13 sacks and made the Pro Bowl in his final season in Kansas City, then had 6.5 sacks in 11 games with San Francisco in 2019.

However, Ford missed all but one game in 2020 due to a chronic back injury that limited him to six games this past season.

The move will save the 49ers around $1.1 million in 2022 but will leave the team with over $11.6 million in dead cap space over the next two seasons.

A first-round pick of the Chiefs in 2014, Ford twice posted double-digit sack totals during his five-year run in Kansas City and has 40 sacks in 85 games over eight NFL seasons.

Jonny Bairstow blasted his highest T20 International score and Moeen Ali struck a record-breaking half-century as England beat South Africa by 41 runs in the first match of the series.

Bairstow is in the form of his life and bludgeoned 90 off only 53 balls on Wednesday, while Moeen made the fastest T20I half-century by an England batter from just 16 deliveries.

The exploits of Bairstow and Moeen (50) enabled England to rack up 234-6 at the County Ground in Bristol, their second-highest total in the shortest format and the biggest they have posted at home.

Tristan Stubbs top scored with a sublime 72 off 28 balls in his first international innings and Reeza Hendricks made 57, but the tourists fell short on 193-8 in a run-fest.

Jos Buttler smashed 22 off only seven balls after losing yet another toss, but Lungi Ngidi (5-39) removed the skipper and fellow opener Jason Roy.

Dawid Malan (43) was looking in ominous touch before he nicked Andile Phehlukwayo behind, setting the stage for Bairstow and Moeen put on an astonishing show of power and timing.

From 112-3 after 12 overs, the left and right-hand combination wreaked havoc, putting on 106 for the fourth wicket in just under six overs, with Bairstow dropped twice as the Proteas suffered under the lights.

Moeen fell straight after bringing up a fastest T20I half-century and Bairstow finally departed in the last over from Ngidi, just missing out on hundred.

The in-form Reece Topley (2-29) dismissed Quinton de Kock and Rilee Rossouw cheaply, but Hendricks and Stubbs made a game of it as they made hay on a great track.

Moeen had Hendricks caught by Sam Curran and Adil Rashid (2-21) struck twice before Stubbs took centre stage as the boundaries continued to flow, but he was one of Richard Gleeson's three late victims and Chris Jordan bowled superbly at the death in a hugely impressive win for England.

 

Bairstow and Moeen go berserk 

The powerful Bairstow struck eight sixes and Moeen cleared the rope six times, with Phehlukwayo (1-63) conceding 33 runs from an astonishing 17th over and Tabraiz Shamsi going for 49 in three wicket-less overs.

Rossouw and Hendricks dropped Bairstow, who was finally removed in an excellent last over from the Ngidi, but the damage had already been done.

Stubbs stakes his claim

The 21-year-old Stubbs had batted in his only two previous internationals against India, but he staked a claim to be a regular fixture in the side with the T20 World Cup on the horizon.

He hit eight sixes to keep the Proteas in with an outside chance of chasing down a huge target, scoring at a rapid rate on both sides of the wicket before falling to Gleeson (3-51).

Mike Trout has been sidelined with rib cage inflammation for the last two weeks and could be out several more after Los Angeles Angels trainer Mike Frostad revealed on Wednesday that the three-time league MVP has been diagnosed with a costovertebral dysfunction at his T5 vertebrae. 

"This is a pretty rare condition that he has right now in his back," Frostad said before the Angels concluded a six-game road trip against the Kansas City Royals. "The doctor [Robert Watkins III], who is one of the most well-known spine surgeons in the country - if not the world, doesn't see a lot of these.” 

Trout has not played since July 12 with what was first was being called back spasms before going on the injured list with rib cage inflammation. After an examination by Watkins, the co-director of the Marina Spine Clinic in Los Angeles, it was discovered that the rib issue was in fact the rare spinal dysfunction that Frostad said is something Trout will likely need to cope with for the rest of his playing career. 

''We just have to take into consideration what he puts himself through with hitting, swinging on a daily basis just to get prepared, and then also playing in the outfield, diving for balls, jumping into the wall - things like that,'' Frostad said. ''And there's so many things that can aggravate it. But this doctor hasn't seen a lot of it.'' 

Over the All-Star break, Trout received a cortisone shot, which did alleviate some of the pain, according to Frostad. However, Frostad also said Trout will go at least another week before he partakes in any baseball activity. 

"I think he's starting to feel like he's getting the benefits," Frostad said. "But long-term we do have to look at this as something that - he has to manage it, not just through the rest of this season, but also through the rest of his career probably." 

Although the Angels entered play Wednesday 22.5 games behind the first-place Houston Astros in the AL West and 11 games out of the league's third wild-card spot, the team has not yet considered shutting Trout down for the rest of the season for the second year in a row. 

Limited to just 36 games in 2021 due to a strained right calf, Trout was enjoying another stellar season upon his return this year, compiling 24 home runs, 17 doubles, 51 RBIs and 55 runs with a .270 batting average, .368 on-base percentage, and .599 slugging percentage in 79 games while being elected to his 10th All-Star Game. 

The 30-year-old Trout will have another appointment with Watkins next week before the Angels map out a timetable for a potential return. 

''He's going to have a follow-up here once we get back," Frostad said, "and we'll just kind of see what the doctor thinks at that point.'' 

Lisandro Martinez says the lure of reuniting with Erik ten Hag played a big part in his decision to join Manchester United from Ajax.

The Argentine defender has moved to Old Trafford in a £56.7million deal on a contract until June 2027, with the option of a further year.

Martinez caught the eye in the Eredivisie and Champions League with Ajax and Arsenal were reported to hold an interest in landing him, but the opportunity to play under United boss Ten Hag again was difficult to resist.

"I was with him three years at Ajax and I know his style of playing," he told the club's official website.

"With him, I improved a lot, to be honest. He's here in Manchester now, so again the opportunity was there and for sure he’s very important in my [career].

"[He's] very intense, for sure. Good football. Winning mentality, you know? That's the most important [thing].

"Every player needs to have things clear. I think he's very clear also. So I think, with him, every day you can learn and then, in the game, you can understand also fully – tactics and everything.

"How did he help me to improve? In how we can understand fully the situations, the decisions inside the pitch. He’s there in every detail."

Martinez is looking forward to making his debut, with thte Red Devils set to face Atletico Madrid and Rayo Vallecano before kicking off the new Premier League campaign against Brighton and Hove Albion.

"Now I can feel the fire, you know? I want to train right now, with the team. For sure, we will work hard to put the club in the high levels," the new signing said.

"I will give my 100 per cent every game, in every training [session]. For sure, also the team, we will do it. We will play as a team."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has criticised the FIA for planned proposals to make further technical regulation changes for the 2023 Formula One season.

Porpoising has been a major talking point in the 2022 season so far, with a number of teams, including Mercedes, struggling with bouncing down the straights at high speed.

Several drivers have complained about the situation and the FIA looks set to take action, with it understood flexible parts and porpoising will be targeted in a new technical directive from the Belgian Grand Prix.

Horner has been critical of any proposed changes throughout the saga, though, and has once again hit out, with his belief that teams have the control to remove the issues by raising ride height but are reluctant to do so due to a loss of speed.

"Changing rules because a couple of teams haven't managed to hit targets is never the right thing to do," he told Eurosport.

"If you want to have convergence in F1, the best thing to do is to leave it alone. Then all the teams will converge.

"What you would see next year, if the rules were left completely alone, I'd be surprised if you saw any bouncing because we've got some of the brightest engineers in the technical world solving these problems.

"These regulations are the biggest change we've had in 40 years. You can already see in recent races there's not been any sign of some of the bouncing from earlier in the year."

Red Bull's stance against further technical regulations has the backing of Ferrari, but Mercedes are continuing to push for changes on the grounds of safety, which has created a stir in the paddock.

The FIA has made it clear they will not back down on the upcoming regulation changes, set to be in effect for the Belgian Grand Prix on August 26-28th – the first race back following the mid-season break that will follow Sunday's race in Hungary.

Top seed Iga Swiatek brushed aside compatriot Magdalena Frech to advance to the last 16 at the Poland Open on Tuesday.

The Warsaw native took 73 minutes to secure a safe passage to the next round with a 6-1 6-2 victory, setting up a clash with Romanian Gabriela Lee – who defeated Raluka Serban on Tuesday.

Swiatek won 76.2 per cent of total service points and won 61.8 per cent of the overall points in the match, with Frech on the back foot throughout, extending her winning streak on clay to 17 matches.

It was Swiatek's first time on the court since defeat at Wimbledon to Alize Cornet, which brought an end to a remarkable 37-match unbeaten run.

Elsewhere, eighth seed Petra Martic overcame Weronika Falkowska 7-5 6-4, while there were also victories for Laura Pigossi, Elisabetta Cocciaretto, Sara Errani and Ana Bogdan.

In the Prague Open, Wimbledon quarter-finalist Marie Bouzkova advanced after a dominant 6-1 6-2 victory against Czech teenager Dominika Salkova - setting up a clash against another teenager, 19-year-old Russian Oksana Selekhmeteva.

There were also victories for Chloe Paquet, Wang Qiang and Magda Linette on day five of the tournament.

 

 

Former Bayern Munich midfielder Dietmar Hamann has admitted he's "cautious" about the club's deal to sign Matthijs de Ligt from Juventus.

The 22-year-old has swapped Turin for the German capital ahead of the 2022-23 season, following what was a difficult three-year stint in Italy.

De Ligt struggled to establish himself as a core member of Juventus' defence and, as a result, saw his stock fall dramatically after previously being widely considered to be one of the best defensive prospects in world football.

Bayern will hope that he can fulfil that potential in Bavaria but Hamann has urged caution about expecting too much from the Netherlands international.

"The big question will be whether De Ligt is able to lead the defence," he told Sky, "He did a wonderful job in Amsterdam. He didn't make it in Turin. 

"Of course, it was a bigger club, bigger competition and he had very experienced players next to him.

"And I don't know if he's the player who comes here now at 22 and immediately leads a defence that was Champions League winners two years ago.

"He may have two world champions next to him in Pavard and Hernandez. That all sounds wonderful. Whether this can then be implemented in practice remains to be seen."

De Ligt is not the only member of Ajax's 2018-19 Champions League semi-final side that has found difficulties since moving to new teams, with Donny Van de Beek at Manchester United and Hakim Ziyech at Chelsea struggling for regular opportunities – which Hamann pointed out.

"All the players who left the very successful Ajax team three years ago were all at best followers of their new clubs," he added.

"And that's why he still owes the proof that he can lead a defence like that of Bayern Munich. I would be a bit cautious."

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