Michael O'Neill said it was "devastating" to hear that Stoke City midfielder Joe Allen will miss Wales' Euro 2020 campaign due to injury.

Allen ruptured an Achilles tendon during the first half of Saturday's 5-1 Championship thrashing of Hull City at the bet365 Stadium.

The 29-year-old will sit out the rest of the domestic season and will be unavailable to Ryan Giggs as Wales attempt to emulate their achievements of four years ago, when they reached the semi-finals in France.

"It's devastating for us and devastating for the boy. Not only will he miss the rest of the season but obviously miss Euro 2020 as well," O'Neill said via Stoke's website.

"He's a great lad and when you're a coach and a manager you want the good lads to get the rewards and do well in the game. Joe's a low-maintenance player but a high-output player.

"I know what it means for him to play for Wales and obviously we [Northern Ireland] played them in 2016 as well and he had a fantastic tournament then. I'm sure he would have been looking forward to the finals and a chance for him to show again that he's a top, top international player, which he's proven to be in the past. It's taken a bit of the shine away for me.

"I kind of feel like I did when Chris Brunt got injured before Euro 2016 and missed it. These things don't come around often in players' careers so when it's taken away from them cruelly with injury it's not very nice."

Louie Sibley scored a superb goal on his first league start for Derby County to put the Rams on their way to a 3-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers at Pride Park.

The 18-year-old midfielder - playing in the absence of Wayne Rooney - troubled Tony Mowbray's side from the outset with his fearless dribbling and he struck a thunderbolt of a shot from 25 yards that bulged the top corner of Blackburn's net after 26 minutes.

Derby continued to dominate the ball and they were rewarded for some slick passing when Max Bird, Sibley and Graeme Shinnie combined to create a chance that Rovers keeper Christian Walton could only parry into the path of Chris Martin, who bundled it into the corner of the net from six yards to double the hosts' lead.

Martin also converted a penalty five minutes from time before Blackburn's John Buckley received a straight red card for a nasty tackle on Curtis Davies, ending a sour afternoon for the visitors.

Blackburn would have moved into the play-off places with victory but they instead remain 10th, two places and two points above Derby, who will not have given up hope of squeezing into the top six themselves.

Leeds United moved top of the Championship after they capitalised on West Brom's draw at Swansea City with a 2-0 home win over Huddersfield Town.

Marcelo Bielsa's men are two points clear at the top of the table after West Brom were held to a 0-0 draw in their match at the Liberty Stadium.

It was not all bad for West Brom as third-placed Fulham also failed to win, instead drawing 1-1 at Bristol City.

Cardiff City, Reading, Brentford, Middlesbrough, QPR and Stoke City were Saturday's other winners.
 

LEEDS LOOKING GOOD

Leeds' mid-season stumble is firmly behind them after a winning a fifth straight game without conceding.

Luke Ayling's stunning volley in the third minute capped a sublime team move at Elland Road and Patrick Bamford made sure of the points with a simple finish six minutes after the break, Jack Harrison later hitting the post.

West Brom, who registered only one shot on target against the Swans, have now gone three games without winning in all competitions, with the pressure on ahead of their home derby with Birmingham City next week.
 

CAIRNEY HITS BACK BUT FULHAM LOSE GROUND

Captain Tom Cairney scored a long-range equaliser with six minutes remaining as Fulham salvaged a point against Bristol City.

Nahki Wells' clever 71st-minute header appeared to have put the hosts on course for victory before that intervention.

Scott Parker's men are now six points behind the automatic promotion spots as opposed to the five they trailed by at the start of the day.

Brentford moved above Nottingham Forest into fourth place with a magnificent 5-0 home win over struggling Sheffield Wednesday.

Josh Dasilva was at the double as Thomas Frank's side ended a five-match winless run in spectacular style.

Preston North End are looking vulnerable in sixth after QPR came from behind to defeat them 3-1 at Deepdale.

Despite Geoff Cameron seeing red for a second bookable offence, Eberechi Eze inspired a comeback with a goal and an assist for QPR, who scored three times in the last 29 minutes.
 

BARNSLEY BOTTOM AS STOKE AND BORO RISE

Barnsley fell to the bottom of the table after they lost 2-0 at home to Cardiff while fellow strugglers Wigan Athletic and Luton Town shared a goalless draw.

Middlesbrough moved out of the bottom three with a 1-0 away win over Charlton Athletic, with Paddy McNair scoring the winner.

Stoke, who started the day fourth-bottom, are up to 17th after a rampant 5-1 home win over Hull City. 

The Potters were three goals up inside 18 minutes and their midfielder Sam Clucas ended the match with a double against his former club, though they lost Joe Allen to what looked like a serious Achilles injury.

Birmingham City head coach Pep Clotet welcomed interest in Jude Bellingham as Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund reportedly close in on the 16-year-old sensation.

Bellingham has been heavily linked to Premier League powerhouse Manchester United, however, the Birmingham teenager is apparently set to become Dortmund's record signing at the end of the season.

SPORT Bild claims Dortmund – who already boast teenage stars Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland – are poised to beat United to Bellingham's signature in a €35million (£30.2m) deal.

Bellingham was rested as Birmingham lost 1-0 to Leicester City in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday and Clotet addressed the speculation post-game.

"I cannot tell you much more because first of all I am not aware because I am a head coach and it's not my area the recruitment, the ins and outs, and I haven't been informed yet," Clotet said.

"I have been focused purely on the game. But let me cut some speculation that might happen, that rumour that you mentioned.

"First of all, for us it is very good because that means for us, a club like Birmingham, to be able to attract the interest of so many big clubs for a player that makes it through the academy and that we play and that we help in the first team that is fantastic.

"But Jude was not here for that reason. He was not here because I wanted to rest him because his fatigue levels were a little bit high and I wanted to get him good rest to so he can be fresh and ready for Saturday.

"Because at the end of the day he is sixteen years old and he has been playing a lot of games lately and I didn't want to put too much load on him."

Bellingham – who became Birmingham's youngest ever player in 2019 – has scored four goals in 31 Championship appearances this season.

West Brom forward Jonathan Leko gave a scathing assessment of the Football Association (FA), Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) and anti-racism bodies for their processes and handling of Kiko Casilla's racial abuse charge.

On Friday, Leeds United goalkeeper Casilla was found guilty of racially abusing Leko in September, an independent regulatory commission ruling the charge had been proven on the balance of probabilities "to a degree well above the requisite standard".

Casilla, who denied the charge, was given an eight-match ban and a £60,000 fine by the FA.

Although Leko acknowledged relief at his claim being upheld, he subsequently made a strong attack on the FA's processes and the various bodies who might have offered him support.

The 20-year-old suggested the lack of contact and "extremely stressful" hearing will make him think twice about lodging such a complaint if he was to find himself in a comparable situation in future.

Leko's statement on West Brom's website read: "I am naturally relieved that the process is now complete and the FA have upheld what I have always known to be true – that I was racially abused by Kiko Casilla in a manner which shocked me and still angers and upsets me to this day.

"I have been disappointed with the amount of time it has taken to reach this point. Knowing what occurred in the game that day, it has been difficult to watch Kiko Casilla continue to play for such a lengthy period as if nothing had happened.

"I would urge the game's governing bodies to look into their own processes when such incidents are reported. It was 22 weeks between the incident and the hearing, during which I had minimal contact from the PFA, of which I am a member, and no contact in the way of support from leading anti-racism bodies such as Kick It Out and Show Racism the Red Card. Some support or guidance would have been very welcome.

"By bringing the incident to the referee's attention immediately, I was only doing what I have been educated to do throughout my career. But I found the hearing, at which I was made to feel I had done something wrong, extremely stressful.

"It made me question whether I would be prepared to go through it all again were I on the receiving end of similar abuse in the future. I certainly would think twice about how to advise another player placed in the same situation.

"From the outset, all I have done is report something that had to be challenged and exposed for what it is – racial abuse. I now want to put the episode behind me and concentrate on recovering from my injury to be ready for next season."

Stats Perform have contacted the PFA, Kick It Out and Show Racism the Red Card for their responses.

Lewis Grabban rescued a 2-2 draw for Nottingham Forest after Championship strugglers Middlesbrough looked set to end their long wait for a victory at the Riverside Stadium on Monday.

Forest knew a win on Teesside would move them six points behind second-placed Leeds United in the battle for automatic promotion and they hit the front courtesy of Ryan Yates' first-time strike 29 minutes in.

Boro turned it around with two goals in the space of four minutes late in the first half, though, Rudy Gestede heading home before Brice Samba allowed Lewis Wing's shot to beat him too easily.

Jonathan Woodgate's side appeared to be climbing out of the relegation zone with what would have been a first win in 12 matches across all competitions, but Grabban capitalised on weak goalkeeping from Aynsley Pears to finish four minutes from time.

#POGBACK?

That was the hashtag used for Paul Pogba's high-profile return to Manchester Untied from Juventus in 2016 – a world-record transfer at the time.

The hashtag could be recycled as Pogba reportedly nears a return to Turin.

 

TOP STORY – JUVE 'FAR AHEAD' FOR POGBA

Juventus have stepped up their interest in wantaway Manchester United star Paul Pogba, according to Tuttosport.

The reports says Juve are already "far ahead" with Pogba in terms of contract talks as the Serie A champions look to start negotiating with United.

Pogba – valued at €100m (£86m) – left Juve for United in 2016 and the French midfielder has also been linked to Real Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims Arsenal are eyeing Sassuolo forward Domenico Berardi as star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang continues to be linked with an exit via Barcelona.

Milan remain interested in Juventus' Federico Bernardeschi despite failing to sign the Italy international in January, says Calciomercato.

Dries Mertens has been linked to Inter and Chelsea but the soon-to-be free agent is set to sign a new two-year deal at Napoli, according to widespread reports in Italy.

- According to La Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Nicolo Schira, Arsenal are working on extending Bukayo Saka's contract until 2025. The 18-year-old has been linked to the likes of Liverpool and United.

United are plotting a move for Stoke City's 18-year-old defender Nathan Collins, says The Sun.

Leeds United and Fulham closed the gap on Championship leaders West Brom, who suffered a shock 1-0 home defeat to Wigan Athletic.

Marcelo Bielsa's men are now only one point adrift of the Baggies at the summit, with Fulham still in striking distance at six off the pace.

Leeds romped to a 4-0 away win over Hull City, while Fulham earned an important 2-0 victory over Preston North End at Craven Cottage.

Huddersfield Town, Reading and Derby County were the only other winners on a Saturday that produced five draws in the second tier.
 

BAGGIES SHOCKED BY LATICS

Wigan's revival continued as they moved out of the relegation zone, making it three straight wins by stunning Slaven Bilic's men, who had picked up 16 points from a possible 18 coming into the contest.

Latics captain Sam Morsy scored the winner with 17 minutes remaining, finding the top corner from 12 yards after being set up by Kieffer Moore.

West Brom were short of their best and Wigan could have led earlier had Gavin Massey's first-half header not struck the post, with the pressure now on for Bilic's men ahead of next week's trip to Swansea City.
 

LEEDS AND FULHAM DELIVER

Prior to West Brom's slip, Leeds had done their bit with an emphatic win against Hull in the first match of the day.

With Kiko Casilla beginning his racism ban, teenager Illan Meslier started in goal but he only had two saves to make as Hull's winless streak reached 11 games across all competitions.

Luke Ayling's early deflected strike had Leeds in front and Bielsa's side ran away with it after the break as Pablo Hernandez netted before a late double from substitute Tyler Roberts, both efforts being set up by Mateusz Klich.

Aboubakar Kamara scored in the fifth minute of added time to finally seal Fulham's win over Preston, with David Nugent's own goal having given them the lead as their opponents suffered their third loss in four.
 

BRENTFORD SQUANDER LEAD

Brentford had to settle for a 2-2 draw at Cardiff City despite building an early two-goal lead thanks to Luka Racic's strike and an impressive free-kick from Bryan Mbeumo.

Junior Hoilett and Joe Ralls scored headers in an 11-minute spell before half-time for Cardiff, with neither side able to find a second-half winner. 

Bristol City could have moved level on points with Preston but they drew 1-1 at Millwall.

At the other end of the table, Huddersfield thrashed Charlton Athletic 4-0 courtesy of a double from Karlan Grant and a stoppage-time James Collins penalty gave Luton Town a 1-1 home draw against fellow strugglers Stoke City.

Leeds United goalkeeper Kiko Casilla has been given an eight-match ban and a £60,000 fine for racially abusing Charlton Athletic's Jonathan Leko.

Casilla, 33, was accused of making racist insults towards Leko during Leeds' 1-0 Championship defeat at The Valley on September 28.

The FA has instructed him to attend an education course after an independent regulatory commission found him guilty.

An FA statement released on Friday read: "Kiko Casilla has been suspended for eight matches with immediate effect, fined £60,000 and must attend face-to-face education after a breach of FA Rule E3(2) was found proven by an independent Regulatory Commission.

"The Leeds United goalkeeper denied using abusive and/or insulting words, which were contrary to FA Rule E3(1) and constituted an 'Aggravated Breach', which is defined in FA Rule E3(2), as they made reference to race and/or colour and/or ethnic origin, towards a Charlton Athletic player during an EFL Championship fixture on Saturday, September 28, 2019."

The FA added the written reasons behind the punishment will be published next week.

Casilla strongly denied the allegations last autumn and was granted a personal hearing with the FA after submitting evidence in his defence.

The Spaniard, who moved to Elland Road from Real Madrid in 2018, has played in all 35 of Leeds' league games this season.

Marcelo Bielsa's side, who sit second in the Championship table, face Hull City away on Saturday.

After missing that match, Casilla will sit out fixtures with Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City, Fulham, Luton Town, Blackburn Rovers, Stoke City and Swansea City before being eligible to return against Barnsley on April 18.

Liverpool appear to be getting closer to completing a deal for RB Leipzig star Timo Werner.

Werner, 23, has been linked with a move to Anfield after a prolific season with the Bundesliga side.

Now, it seems the Germany forward is continuing to take step towards joining the European champions.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL OFFER WERNER FIVE-YEAR DEAL

Liverpool have offered Werner a contract until 2025 worth £6.8million (€8m) a season plus bonuses, according La Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Nicolo Schira.

The Premier League club are reportedly ready to pay Werner's release clause of £49m (€58m) before April.

Werner, who recently spoke glowingly about the Premier League club, has 27 goals in 33 games in all competitions this season.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United are backing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The Sun reports United are preparing a £250m spending spree amid links to the likes of Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jadon Sancho, Aston Villa's Jack Grealish and Leicester City's James Maddison.

- Coming out of contract at the end of the season, Jan Vertonghen seems set to leave Tottenham. The Evening Standard reports Inter have contacted the defender about a potential move.

- Could Marcelo Bielsa be set to leave Leeds United? ElDesmarque reports Real Betis have contacted the Argentinian about his situation, with Leeds chasing promotion to the Premier League.

- Looking to strengthen their defence, Chelsea have made RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano their number one transfer target, according to the Mirror.

- Amid some criticism of Real Madrid over their decision to let Theo Hernandez leave for Milan in July, CalcioMercato reports the 22-year-old Frenchman is happy at the Serie A club, where he has starred this season.

Liverpool appear to be getting closer to completing a deal for RB Leipzig star Timo Werner.

Werner, 23, has been linked with a move to Anfield after a prolific season with the Bundesliga side.

Now, it seems the Germany forward is continuing to take step towards joining the European champions.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL OFFER WERNER FIVE-YEAR DEAL

Liverpool have offered Werner a contract until 2025 worth £6.8million (€8m) a season plus bonuses, according La Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Nicolo Schira.

The Premier League club are reportedly ready to pay Werner's release clause of £49m (€58m) before April.

Werner, who recently spoke glowingly about the Premier League club, has 27 goals in 33 games in all competitions this season.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United are backing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The Sun reports United are preparing a £250m spending spree amid links to the likes of Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jadon Sancho, Aston Villa's Jack Grealish and Leicester City's James Maddison.

- Coming out of contract at the end of the season, Jan Vertonghen seems set to leave Tottenham. The Evening Standard reports Inter have contacted the defender about a potential move.

- Could Marcelo Bielsa be set to leave Leeds United? ElDesmarque reports Real Betis have contacted the Argentinian about his situation, with Leeds chasing promotion to the Premier League.

- Looking to strengthen their defence, Chelsea have made RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano their number one transfer target, according to the Mirror.

- Amid some criticism of Real Madrid over their decision to let Theo Hernandez leave for Milan in July, CalcioMercato reports the 22-year-old Frenchman is happy at the Serie A club, where he has starred this season.

Leeds United closed the gap to Championship leaders West Brom on Wednesday, while there were welcome wins for Barnsley and Wigan Athletic at the bottom of the table.

The Baggies had moved seven points clear at the summit with a 2-0 victory over Preston North End 24 hours earlier, but Leeds cut the deficit by completing a league double over lowly Middlesbrough.

Fulham are back up to third after they left it late to see off Swansea City, while Steven Fletcher struck deep into stoppage time as Sheffield Wednesday triumphed 1-0 over Charlton Athletic.

Millwall missed the chance to move closer to the play-off places as they were held 0-0 at home by Birmingham City. There were also no goals at Ewood Park, as Blackburn Rovers drew with Stoke City.

 

KLICH-ING INTO GEAR FOR LEEDS

Marcelo Bielsa's side triumphed 1-0 for a third successive league outing, Mateusz Klich scoring the only goal in first-half stoppage time at the Riverside.

The hosts managed just two shots on target as they drew a blank yet again – they have not found the net since a 2-2 draw away at fellow strugglers Wigan on February 11.

Fulham are five points behind Leeds in the standings; Aleksandar Mitrovic missed an 89th-minute penalty but made amends before the final whistle, grabbing the winner in added time at Craven Cottage.

 

BATTLE TO BEAT THE DROP HEATING UP

After Luton Town upset Brentford on Tuesday, Barnsley found themselves propping up the rest prior to kick-off at Hull City.

However, their recent revival continued with a 1-0 victory, Cauley Woodrow the scorer for the visitors in the 42nd minute.

Wigan still occupy the third and final relegation berth but now only trail Middlesbrough on goal difference after a resounding 3-0 result away at Reading.

Kieffer Moore broke the deadlock with an audacious back-heeled finish, with Jamal Lowe and Michael Jacobs – who struck in the ninth minute of added time – also scoring for the Latics.

Championship leaders West Brom extended their advantage over Leeds United to seven points on Tuesday but Brentford's winless run goes on after they slipped up on their travels.

With their nearest rivals in the table not in action until Wednesday, the Baggies recorded a fifth win in six league outings as they overcame a Preston North End side who had Darnell Fisher sent off in the second half.

While Nottingham Forest moved up to third place thanks to a narrow triumph away to Cardiff City, fellow promotion hopefuls Bristol City slumped to a 2-1 loss at Huddersfield Town.

QPR prevailed by a 2-1 score at home to Derby County, too, with Ilias Chair grabbing the winner for the hosts in the 75th minute.

 

HAL JUST HEAVENLY FOR BAGGIES

Preston are still searching for their first away win over West Brom since 1992 after going down 2-0 at a snowy Hawthorns.

Hal Robson-Kanu opened the scoring in the sixth minute and Jake Livermore doubled the advantage for Slaven Bilic's side in first-half stoppage time, with the visitors' hopes of a comeback curtailed when Fisher was shown a straight red for a challenge on Callum Robinson.

Leeds will hope to cut the gap when they visit Middlesbrough, but Forest are now only three points behind the Yorkshire club after Tiago Silva's 49th-minute goal was enough to beat Cardiff.

 

BEES BUZZED IN PROMOTION FIGHT

Brentford have now gone four league games without a victory after they were beaten 2-1 at struggling Luton Town.

The Bees were stung by an own goal by Shandon Baptiste in the ninth minute, with Martin Cranie then putting the hosts 2-0 up before the break.

Ollie Watkins pulled one back late on, yet Luton hung on for their 10th win of the campaign, lifting them off the bottom of the table as they climbed above Barnsley.

Huddersfield, meanwhile, moved further clear of the drop zone. Chris Willock and Karlan Grant, who converted from the spot, secured them the three points at the expense of seventh-placed Bristol City.

Leeds United beat Reading 1-0 at Elland Road to move five points clear of the chasing pack in the race for automatic promotion from the Championship.

Third-placed Fulham were held 1-1 by Derby County on Friday and Brentford in fourth played out a 2-2 draw with Blackburn Rovers.

Nottingham Forest and Bristol City also dropped points, drawing 0-0 with QPR and losing 3-0 to leaders West Brom respectively, with the Baggies maintaining their four-point gap on Leeds.

Elsewhere, Wigan Athletic and Barnsley picked up wins to boost their survival hopes.

LEEDS, WEST BROM PULLING AWAY

Pablo Hernandez's 57th-minute strike earned Leeds back-to-back 1-0 home wins.

West Brom appear over their mid-season wobble after making it four wins in five matches with a comfortable victory.

Callum Robinson put Slaven Bilic's side on course for an 11th away win of the campaign with a fortuitous opener and Hal Robson-Kanu netted twice, either side of Romaine Sawyers' straight red for grabbing Jamie Paterson by the throat.

CHASING PACK FALTER

Brentford fought from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Blackburn as they joined west London rivals Fulham in dropping points.

Ollie Watkins scored an impressive volley and Said Benrahma netted from the penalty spot to cancel out Adam Armstrong's double.

Forest missed out on the chance to move up to third after failing to break down QPR in a stalemate at City Ground, while Preston North End recovered from a goal down to beat Hull City 2-1.

HOPE FOR WIGAN, BARNSLEY

Shaun Hutchinson's own goal was enough for Wigan to earn just an eighth league win of the campaign at home to Millwall, while Barnsley built on their shock 3-0 win at Fulham last weekend with a 1-0 victory over Middlesbrough.

Wigan and Barnsley are now two and five points adrift of 21st-placed Huddersfield respectively following the Terriers' 3-1 defeat at Swansea City.

Luton Town are now occupying bottom place, with Lyle Taylor's double earning Charlton Athletic a 3-1 win.

Elsewhere, a Callum Paterson own goal and a scrambled finish from Joe Allen saw Stoke City earn a 2-0 home win against Cardiff City that leaves them three points clear of the drop-zone.

SIX-GOAL THRILLER AT ST ANDREW'S

Birmingham City and Sheffield Wednesday remain locked on 45 points following a 3-3 draw.

Garry Monk was denied a winning return to one of his former clubs by Scott Hogan's equaliser in added time, the Aston Villa loanee's fourth goal in five matches.

Wednesday had twice battled back from a goal down before Jacob Murphy put them in front, but they are now winless in six outings.

Wayne Rooney marked his 500th game in English league football with a goal but it was not enough for Derby County as they drew 1-1 with Fulham.

Rooney made it 10 goals from his last 13 appearances against Fulham in all competitions when he chipped home from the penalty spot 10 minutes into the second half in Friday's Championship encounter.

However, Fulham fought back to restore parity – Aleksandar Mitrovic sending a brilliant finish into the bottom-left corner in the 71st minute.

Bobby De Cordova-Reid and Ivan Cavaleiro went close to completing the turnaround for Fulham, though the visitors had Marek Rodak to thank when he pulled off a string of stunning saves late on.

Ultimately, though, neither side could snatch a winner and the draw leaves Derby in 12th, while Fulham missed the chance to move level on points with second-placed Leeds United.

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