EPL

Walker's World Cup in jeopardy after Guardiola confirms Man City defender will be out for 'weeks'

By Sports Desk October 05, 2022

Kyle Walker's availability for the World Cup is up in the air after Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola declared the England right-back suffered an abdominal injury that will keep him out "for a while".

Walker, 32, was substituted in the first half of City's 6-3 derby win against Manchester United on Sunday after making his seventh start from his side's eight Premier League fixtures this campaign.

He also started four of England's six UEFA Nations League games since the beginning of June, resulting in three defeats and a draw.

However, Walker is now set for "weeks" on the sidelines in the shadows of the World Cup, according to Guardiola.

"[He will be out] for a while," he told reporters following City's 5-0 Champions League thrashing of Copenhagen on Wednesday. "I don't know exactly, but weeks.

"Something abdominal, so he will be a while. We don't know how long. Maybe the club will make a statement in the next day, but for a while he will be out.

"I don't know [about availability for the World Cup]. I cannot say anything else, I don't know."

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  • 'We are here on our own' – Martinez says rift reports were 'great own goal' for Belgium 'We are here on our own' – Martinez says rift reports were 'great own goal' for Belgium

    Roberto Martinez has blasted the Belgian media for coverage of a "genius" French-based report detailing supposed unrest in the Belgium camp ahead of a huge World Cup match against Croatia.

    Belgium lost 2-0 to Morocco in their second Group F game and must now defeat the 2018 finalists to be sure of advancing to the knockout stage.

    The Red Devils' preparation for that fixture has been hampered this week by discussion of a rift within the team, first reported by RTL and L'Equipe.

    Belgium's players subsequently came together for a meeting – "it wasn't a crisis meeting, as we might have heard from some quarters," insisted Timothy Castagne – as they aim to "show more solidarity" against Croatia.

    Castagne added the reports had "exaggerated a lot" and he had "seen worse", before Martinez, appearing after the defender at a pre-match news conference, suggested his team now knew they were in Qatar "on our own".

    "For us, nothing changes. The standards come from within," the coach said.

    "We were not happy with our two performances. We got the result in the first game, but we were not happy with our performance.

    "The second game was the first time we lost a game by two goals in a major tournament. You can imagine we were not happy with it. We had to react.

    "Then you see the storm on the outside and realise maybe we were listening too much to the noise on the outside before the tournament.

    "You have some outlets in Belgium who are quite happy to jump on fake news. That's quite astonishing. It's made the group quite aware that the least you listen to the noise from outside the better.

    "It's the biggest sporting event in the world, and you can see there are many World Cups being played. Maybe a country like France did a very good job with a story that became the main talking point of some outlets.

    "There is more desire to find negative news around this team, rather than getting the nation together, supporting this team, enjoying the talent of the best generation we ever had in Belgian football.

    "Probably that was a lesson for all of us: we are here on our own. We are here to fight for what we believe. Hopefully the fans, the real fans of the Red Devils, can enjoy the process."

    Pressed on his suggestion the story had come out of France and been intended to hurt Belgium, Martinez replied: "I've got too many things to do in camp to think about where this story comes.

    "What is clear is whoever came up with it, whoever has done it has scored a great goal, an own goal for Belgium.

    "If I'm an opposition and I can weaken another side and get them out of the World Cup, I would do that as a journalist, I would love to win my own World Cup. Whoever's done it is genius."

    Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said his side would not be "fooled" by the reports around the Belgium team, adding: "I don't have an opinion on them and what's happening there.

    "They are the second-best team in the world. That's all I care about. We are not focusing on any other aspects. We are focusing on Belgium, their quality.

    "They cannot forget overnight how to play football. They are a top-notch team. They're number two, and we're number 12."

  • Labuschagne leads the way as Australia open commanding lead Labuschagne leads the way as Australia open commanding lead

    Marnus Labuschagne struck an unbeaten 154 to help Australia reach 293-2 on day one of their first Test with West Indies on Wednesday.

    West Indies struggled to find answers at Optus Stadium in Perth, taking only the wickets of openers David Warner (5) and Usman Khawaja (65).

    Australia, who have lost just one of their past eight Test series, were in trouble early on as Warner's lean streak in the longest format continued when he chopped on from Jayden Seales' wide delivery.

    The home side were 9-1 when Labuschagne arrived at the crease, but he and Khawaja set about advancing their side to 72-1 by lunch and then kicked on.

    Kyle Mayers gave West Indies a much-needed breakthrough when delivering a perfect ball that caught the edge of Khawaja's bat and was gathered by Joshua Da Silva.

    The Khawaja-Labuschagne partnership may have ended at 142 runs, but the latter was not finished there as he struck 16 fours and a six en route to another huge score.

    Steve Smith also chipped in with an unbeaten 59 while producing a 142-run stand of his own with Labuschagne, which they will look to build on when play resumes on Thursday.


    Magical Marnus

    Australia are undefeated in their past 11 Test series against West Indies, winning 10 of those and each of the past eight, and they already look great value to extend that streak.

    Labuschagne was undoubtedly the star of the day with his eighth Test ton and he will now look to build on his unbeaten 154, which is the fourth-highest tally of his career.

    Weak Warner

    West Indies have won their past two Test series and they started well in Perth when sending Warner packing in the fourth over.

    That was the Australia opener's fourth successive single figure dismissal in a home Test innings, and he will be grateful that Labuschagne in particular was able to bail him out.

  • Pakistan discussing first Test postponement as illness sweeps England camp Pakistan discussing first Test postponement as illness sweeps England camp

    Pakistan are in discussions with England over postponing the opening Test between the pair following illness in the tourists' camp.

    The two are set to meet in their first red-ball match in Pakistan since 2005 this week, beginning a three-match series in Rawalpindi on Thursday.

    But an infection has swept through England's party, disrupting their preparations, with only a handful of the squad training on Wednesday.

    Now, the Pakistan Cricket Board is in dialogue with the England and Wales Cricket Board over delaying the fixture.

    "The PCB and ECB are in discussions regarding the commencement of the first Test as some England players are down with [a] viral infection," said the PCB.

    "The PCB continues to monitor the situation, is in contact with the ECB and will provide further updates in due course."

    England batsman Joe Root, one of a handful of players who trained on Wednesday, suggested a postponement was the right decision to make, stating the tourists did not wish to shortchange the occasion.

    "It's such a monumental tour and important series for so many reasons," he told BBC Sport. "We've waited 17 years to come to Pakistan to play a Test match.

    "If it means waiting another day, is that the worst thing in the world? We're all desperate to play this game, and we know how important it is to the fans of Pakistan and their team as well."

    Root was succeeded by Ben Stokes as captain earlier this year and ruled out leading the side if the latter was indisposed, suggesting Ollie Pope should instead deputise.

    "I don't think that's going to be the case," he added when asked if he would skipper England. "Last week Popey did a great job in the warm-up game. I think that might be a better way for the group moving forward."

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