For so long, Donny van de Beek has been tipped to join Real Madrid.

Madrid previously contacted Eredivisie champions Ajax over a possible deal for the midfielder at the start of the season.

The LaLiga giants reportedly have an agreement in place for Van de Beek, however, Manchester United are still fighting for the Dutchman.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED OUT TO HIJACK MADRID'S DONNY PURSUIT

Manchester United are looking to beat Real Madrid to the signing of Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek, according to Marca.

Madrid reportedly have a pre-agreement with Van de Beek, who was close to swapping Amsterdam for the Spanish capital at the start of 2019-20.

Now, United are trying to pip Madrid to Van de Beek amid doubts over star midfielder Paul Pogba, who has been linked with a move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims Juventus remain the preferred option for Pogba, despite United insisting the Frenchman will be at Old Trafford in 2020-21.

- Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland team-mates at Madrid? The LaLiga giants are interested in the pair, however, Marca has described it as an "impossible dream". That is because Mbappe and Haaland reportedly do not get along following the Champions League last-16 tie, which saw PSG mock the Dortmund forward.

- Calciomercato says Napoli and Inter are set to go head-to-head for Sassuolo midfielder Jeremie Boga.

- PSG full-back Thomas Meunier will join Borussia Dortmund on a free transfer at the end of the season, reports RMC. Meunier's contract is due to expire in June.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's future at Milan is uncertain. Gazzetta dello Sport says Ibrahimovic will only extend his contract if the Rossoneri build a strong winning team in Serie A.

Wayne Rooney believes footballers in England were being treated "like guinea pigs" amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite initially planning to go ahead with fixtures across the weekend, the Premier League and EFL announced on Friday that matches had been postponed until at least April 3.

The decision brought England's competitions in line with the rest of the major European leagues, with Ligue 1 having been suspended indefinitely while LaLiga and Serie A are off until April at the earliest – the Bundesliga has also been postponed.

Derby County forward Rooney - who is Manchester United and England's record scorer - believes the right decision was taken, though he was left frustrated by how long the authorities took to make the call.

"After the emergency meeting, at last the right decision was made," Rooney wrote in a column in The Times.

"Until then it almost felt like footballers in England were being treated like guinea pigs.

"The rest of sport - tennis, Formula One, rugby, golf, football in other countries - was closing down and we were being told to carry on.

"At Derby County, we sat at training on Thursday waiting for [prime minister] Boris Johnson to speak. People were anxious.

"Thankfully football made the right call in the end. We had to put the season on hold. Some people won't be happy but I just think, in this case, football has to come second. It's a sport. It's just a sport."

It remains unclear how the season will continue when the pandemic is over.

On Tuesday, the 55 member nations of UEFA will convene to discuss plans for the Champions League, Europa League and Euro 2020, while the Premier League has called another emergency meeting on Thursday.

Rooney, though, says players will be happy to go with whatever decision is made, as long as it is safe to play again.

"If people's lives are at risk, that has to come first, regardless of whether you're going to win the league title, whether you're trying to get into Europe or whether you're going to get relegated or promoted," he added.

"We're happy to play until September if the season extends to then, if that's how it has to be. That's our job. As long as we know we're safe to play and it's a safe environment for spectators, we'll play."

On Thursday, Arsenal confirmed head coach Mikel Arteta had tested positive for COVID-19, as has Chelsea youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Could Liverpool part with Sadio Mane?

The star forward is a key member of Jurgen Klopp's side, who won the Champions League last season.

However, Real Madrid are reportedly ready to test Liverpool's resolve.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID SET SIGHTS ON MANE

LaLiga giants Real Madrid are targeting Liverpool star Sadio Mane, reports The Mirror.

Mane has established himself as an integral part of Liverpool's squad after arriving from Southampton in 2016.

However, Madrid believe they could tempt Liverpool with a £140million (€154m) offer.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tuttosport's frontpage has the headline "Hands off Ronaldo". Sunday's newspaper features a story which says Juventus and Cristiano Ronaldo want to continue together as the Serie A champions look to sign a "real number nine" amid links to Mauro Icardi. The Argentina international is on loan at Paris Saint-Germain from Inter.

PSG expect Neymar to leave at the end of the season, with ESPN claiming the Ligue 1 giants value the Barcelona target at €150m. Neymar left Barca for PSG in a world-record €222m deal in 2017.

- According to the Express, Chelsea are preparing a £85m (€93m) bid for Bayer Leverkusen's Leon BaileyLiverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United have also been linked to the 22-year-old.

- Gazzetta dello Sport claims PSG are keen on Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic, who is contracted to the Italian giants until 2023. While Pjanic could leave Turin, Emerson Palmieri could arrive as Juve eye the Chelsea full-back.

United have offered goalkeeper Dean Henderson a new contract worth £100,000 per week, reports The Sun. Henderson is on loan at Sheffield United.

- The Mirror says United, Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Chelsea have all met Birmingham City's asking price for teenage sensation Jude Bellingham.

Liverpool are ready to offload Xherdan Shaqiri, Dejan Lovren, Nathaniel Clyne and Adam Lallana at the end of the season, according to the Liverpool Echo.

Birmingham City head coach Pep Clotet urged teenage sensation Jude Bellingham to ignore interest from Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund.

Bellingham is enjoying a brilliant debut season as a professional with Birmingham – the 16-year-old linked to Premier League giants United and Bundesliga powerhouse Dortmund.

The teenager reportedly toured United's training ground on Monday, having been tipped to join fellow Englishman Jadon Sancho at Dortmund next season.

However, Spanish boss Clotet told Bellingham to stay focused on his task at hand with Championship outfit Birmingham.

"I always thought he is very mature and very focused – but he has to be," Clotet told reporters.

"Because he cannot be thinking about other things than Birmingham City – and I am sure he is only thinking about Birmingham City.

"That's the feeling I get from him, when I speak to him and work with him."

Bellingham – who became Birmingham's youngest ever player in 2019 – has scored four goals in 32 Championship appearances this season.

David Ibbotson, the pilot in the plane crash that killed footballer Emiliano Sala, did not have the required licence or permissions to fly commercially.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) on Friday published its report into the loss of the Piper Malibu aircraft, which crashed over the English Channel on January 21 last year, two days after Sala's move from Nantes to Cardiff City was confirmed.

It found Ibbotson's previous licence for flying that plane had become invalidated in November 2018.

In addition, the aircraft did not have the correct license or permissions to operate.

The body of Sala, who was 28 at the time, was recovered on February 7, 2019. Ibbotson's body has not been found.

A report released in August said Sala had clearly been exposed to carbon monoxide.

And in publishing their final findings, the AAIB wrote: "At 20:16 hrs (local time), probably while manoeuvring to avoid poor weather, the aircraft was lost from radar and struck the sea 22 nautical miles north-north-west of Guernsey.

"Neither the pilot nor aircraft had the required licences or permissions to operate commercially."

The investigation found that Ibbotson lost control during a manually-flown turn, likely initiated to remain in or regain Visual Meteorological Conditions, and that the aircraft subsequently broke up "while manoeuvring at an airspeed significantly in excess of its design manoeuvring speed".

Additionally, the investigation determined that Ibbotson was probably affected by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Furthermore, the report revealed there was no carbon monoxide detector with an active warning to alert Ibbotson to the presence of carbon monoxide in time for him to take mitigating action.

The report also found that: "A loss of control was made more likely because the flight was not conducted in accordance with safety standards applicable to commercial operations. 

"This manifested itself in the flight being operated under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) at night in poor weather conditions despite the pilot having no training in night flying and a lack of recent practice in instrument flying."

Premier League fixtures are to go ahead as planned, with no games played behind closed doors, despite fears over the spread of coronavirus.

Sporting events and competitions across the globe have been either postponed or cancelled altogether as governments and organisations attempt to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Thursday the British government would not yet be cancelling large-scale public events, though that is subject to change.

Following this announcement, the Premier League – now the only major European league not to either postpone entire rounds of fixtures or play matches behind closed doors – confirmed this weekend's round of fixtures would go ahead.

The Merseyside derby is among the latest round of games, with Liverpool just two wins away from clinching a first league title since 1990.

"Following the latest update from government issued this afternoon, all Premier League matches will go ahead as scheduled this weekend," a statement on the league's official website read.

"While the prime minister advised that all sporting events should take place as normal for now, he also indicated that government is considering banning major public events, like sporting fixtures.

"We are therefore continuing to work closely with our clubs, government, The FA, EFL and other relevant stakeholders to ensure appropriate contingency plans are in place as and when circumstances change. 

"The welfare of players, staff and supporters is of paramount importance and we will continue to follow Public Health England guidelines thoroughly."

Shortly after the statement was released, Arsenal confirmed head coach Mikel Arteta had tested positive for coronavirus.

Arsenal's London Colney training centre was closed, with Arteta the first confirmed case in the Premier League.

Meanwhile, an unnamed Manchester City player – reported to be Benjamin Mendy – is self-isolating after a member of their family fell ill and was tested.

Brendan Rodgers earlier confirmed three Leicester City players had also self-isolated after showing coronavirus symptoms.

The English Football League has also confirmed matches will continue to take place until it is advised otherwise.

As the coronavirus crisis deepens, European football is continuing to deal with its consequences.

We take a look at how COVID-19 has affected the top five leagues, as well as associated players and teams.

 

Italy

Serie A, Serie B, Coppa Italia – POSTPONED

Following a government decree issued on Monday, all public gathering are prohibited until April 3, with the whole country put on lockdown.

This directly impacts domestic football, which has been postponed. The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) is exploring alternatives if the Serie A season – which is constrained by international deadlines relating to Euro 2020 – cannot run its course.

The three suggestions the FIGC has put forward are: to end the season early and crown the leader at that point as champions; halt the 2019-20 campaign without any team winning the title; or have play-offs for the Scudetto and relegation spots.

Germany

Bundesliga, 2.Bundesliga – ACTIVE

The situation in Germany is being dealt with on a case-by-case basis in local regions and is yet to cause widespread disruption to the two highest divisions, however COVID-19 is spreading rapidly.

Bavaria's government has prohibited events with more than 1,000 people until April 19, in a move that will impact Bayern Munich and Augsburg from the Bundesliga.

Die Roten's Champions League meeting with Chelsea next Wednesday will take place in an empty Allianz Arena, though their away match against Union Berlin this weekend is set to go ahead as normal.

Next Wednesday's Rhine derby between Borussia Monchengladbach and Cologne has already been confirmed as the first Bundesliga game to be played with no fans.

Germany's Euro 2020 warm-up friendly against Italy on March 31 will also be behind closed doors.

France

Ligue 1, Ligue 2 – BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

After a previous government decision had announced matches could only be played in front of a maximum of 1,000 fans, authorities have since demanded all games go ahead with no spectators until April 15.

Paris Saint-Germain have already had their meeting with Strasbourg – initially set for last weekend – postponed due to coronavirus, while their upcoming Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund will be played without fans.

LaLiga

LaLiga, La Segunda – BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

It was confirmed on Tuesday that all sporting events in Spain will be played behind closed doors over the next two weeks.

However, following the request of Segunda side Real Zaragoza to postpone all matches instead, the Association of Spanish Footballers (AFE) added weight to such a call, insisting Spain should be following the lead of countries like Italy and Switzerland.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) is set to make a decision on Friday regarding the friendly with Germany at the Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid on March 26.

England

Premier League, the Football League – ACTIVE

As of March 10, English football is yet to be directly impacted by COVID-19.

However, Championship side Nottingham Forest confirmed on Tuesday their owner Evangelos Marinakis had tested positive for the virus.

It is unclear how that will impact on Forest and the division as a whole.

The coronavirus continues to have a huge impact on the sporting calendar. 

Further measures to prevent the spread of the virus were taken on Tuesday, affecting a plethora of sports and leagues.

More events were subject to postponements, while games taking place in empty arenas will become a regular sight in the coming weeks.

Here we look at the sporting decisions announced as the world attempts to tackle the outbreak.

 

Catalans Dragons have confirmed their match against Leeds Rhinos on Saturday will be played behind closed doors at the Gilbert Brutus stadium. 

The French side wanted to move the fixture to Leeds or play on an alternative date later in the year, but their request was rejected after a meeting involving the RFL, Super League and both teams.

Catalans released a statement expressing their disappointment at a decision they explained would "hugely impact the finances of the club", with revenues from the upcoming match having already been factored into their budget.

All professional football matches in Portugal will take place behind closed doors this weekend, with the possibility of that being extended for an indefinite period.

President of the French Football Federation, Noel Le Graet, has said France's two matches against Ukraine and Finland this month will be played without spectators present at the Stade de France.

The Finland match was initially scheduled to be played at Lyon's Groupama Stadium but Le Graet felt playing at a different venue to their regular home in Paris would no longer make sense.

Scottish champions Celtic are asking players to "limit their appearances at events outwith training and playing duties", while avoiding interactions with fans such as taking selfies or signing autographs.

The DEL, Germany's top Ice Hockey league, has ended its ongoing 2019-20 season with immediate effect. They will not hold end-of-season play-offs nor will a champion be crowned.

With March Madness now a week away, NCAA president Mark Emmert has insisted neither health experts nor the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control have advised against sporting events being held.

The update came after the Ivy League announced its postseason tournament was cancelled. Yale have been declared Ivy League champions and will represent it in March Madness.

Barcelona have released the latest steps they are taking relating to the COVID-19 outbreak. All their games at professional, amateur and youth levels will be played behind closed doors, with all ticket holders to be refunded by the club.

Barca academy activities in China, Japan, Jordan, Dubai and Kuwait have all been suspended, and their Academy World Cup tournament has been cancelled. The youth team will not take part in any away tournaments or friendlies during the months of March and April.

Northern Irish champions Linfield have confirmed an unnamed player has tested positive for coronavirus and BBC Sport are reporting the club's Windsor Park stadium will be closed for the next two days while a deep clean takes place.

The rearranged Bundesliga match between rivals Borussia Monchengladbach and Cologne, which was originally cancelled due to Storm Ciara, will now be played behind closed doors on Wednesday.

Gladbach CEO Stephan Schippers expressed his concern at a news conference as he explained the club would lose €2m each time this happened.

Germany and Italy's friendly match, set to take place on March 31 in Nuremberg, will now be played behind closed doors, the German Football Association (DFB) confirmed. Additionally, there will be no fans at the Bundesliga game between Hoffenheim and Hertha Berlin on March 14.

In France, Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 games will be played behind closed doors until April 15. France's minister for sport Roxana Maracineanu had on Monday said games could be played with a limit of 1,000 fans, but the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) confirmed on Tuesday that no fans will be permitted. Earlier, Maracineanu called for fans to show "responsibility" and avoid "any damaging impact on public order" when Paris Saint-Germain play Borussia Dortmund behind closed doors in the Champions League on Wednesday.

All sporting activity in Italy is suspended until April 3 by the country's Olympic Committee. In a statement, the committee conceded it does not have jurisdiction over international competitions. Following that, it was confirmed the Champions League clash between Barcelona and Napoli at Camp Nou on March 18 will go ahead behind closed doors. The Italian club insisted reports claiming they wanted the match to be postponed were "fake news".

The PGA of America and PGA Tour have rejected suggestions the US PGA Championship, which is to be held from May 14-17 at TPC Harding Park, could be moved from San Francisco after this week's tennis tournaments in Indian Wells were cancelled. 

"They [PGA of America officials] are fully planning on proceeding with the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco," PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said. "There is no plan at this point in time for the PGA Championship to be held here. It's going to be held at TPC Harding Park."

However, the MotoGP Grand Prix of the Americas, which was scheduled for April 3-5 in Austin, is postponed and will instead take place in November.

The coronavirus continues to have a huge impact on the sporting calendar. 

Further measures to prevent the spread of the virus were taken on Tuesday, affecting a plethora of sports and leagues.

More events were subject to postponements, while games taking place in empty arenas will become a regular sight in the coming weeks.

Here we look at the sporting decisions announced as the world attempts to tackle the outbreak.

 

In France, Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 games will be played behind closed doors until April 15. France's minister for sport Roxana Maracineanu had on Monday said games could be played with a limit of 1,000 fans, but the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) confirmed on Tuesday that no fans will be permitted. Earlier, Maracineanu called for fans to show "responsibility" and avoid "any damaging impact on public order" when Paris Saint-Germain play Borussia Dortmund behind closed doors in the Champions League on Wednesday.

The friendly between Germany and Italy, set to take place on March 31 in Nuremberg, will now be played behind closed doors, the German Football Association (DFB) confirmed. Additionally, there will be no fans at the Bundesliga game between Hoffenheim and Hertha Berlin on March 14.

Also in Germany, the rearranged Bundesliga match between rivals Borussia Monchengladbach and Cologne, which was originally cancelled due to Storm Ciara, will now be played behind closed doors on Wednesday.

Gladbach CEO Stephan Schippers expressed his concern at a news conference, saying: "From a commercial perspective, you can't plan for something like this. 

"We will lose €2million per game. We have insurance against games that are called off, but not if they are played behind closed doors. That will hurt all clubs, including Borussia, financially.

"Fans have the right to be reimbursed. The settlement process will be discussed, but for now we need to see if more games will also follow. In that sense, we will find the right solution."

All sporting activity in Italy is suspended until April 3 by the country's Olympic Committee. In a statement, the committee conceded it does not have jurisdiction over international competitions. Following that, it was confirmed the Champions League clash between Barcelona and Napoli at Camp Nou on March 18 will go ahead behind closed doors. The Italian club insisted reports claiming they wanted the match to be postponed were "fake news".

The PGA of America and PGA Tour have rejected suggestions the US PGA Championship, which is to be held from May 14-17 at TPC Harding Park, could be moved from San Francisco after this week's tennis tournaments in Indian Wells were cancelled. 

"They [PGA of America officials] are fully planning on proceeding with the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco," PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said. "There is no plan at this point in time for the PGA Championship to be held here. It's going to be held at TPC Harding Park."

However, the MotoGP Grand Prix of the Americas, which was scheduled for April 3-5 in Austin, is postponed and will instead take place in November.

In the first indication that coronavirus could impact the NCAA men's basketball tournament, also known as March Madness, in the United States, the Ivy League announced its postseason tournament is cancelled. Yale have been declared Ivy League champions and will represent it in March Madness.

Wales will follow the advice of Italian authorities on whether Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey will be allowed to leave the country to take part in their home matches with Austria and USA later this month, amid the lockdown on travel in Italy.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport released a statement insisting there was "no rationale" to postponing sporting events at this stage in the United Kingdom. Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney said the message sporting authorities had received from the government was "let's not panic".

Matches in Poland's top flight, the Ekstraklasa, will be played without supporters until further notice. The Europa League final is scheduled to be played in Gdansk on May 27.

Ticket sales for Northern Ireland's away Euro 2020 play-off match against Bosnia-Herzegovina on March 26 have been suspended amid fears over the outbreak.

The Euro 2020 play-off match between the Republic of Ireland and Slovakia in Bratislava on March 26 will be played with no fans present on the instruction of the Slovakian government, with all supporters who bought tickets to be refunded.

The owner of Greek side Olympiacos and Championship club Nottingham Forest, Evangelos Marinakis, has confirmed he has contracted COVID-19. He wrote on Instagram: "The virus has 'visited' me and I felt obliged to let the public know. I feel good as I take all the necessary measures and I discipline to the doctors' instructions."

The coronavirus continues to have a huge impact on the sporting calendar. 

Further measures to prevent the spread of the virus were taken on Tuesday, affecting a plethora of sports and leagues.

More events were subject to postponements, while games taking place in empty arenas will become a regular sight in the coming weeks.

Here we look at the sporting decisions announced as the world attempts to tackle the outbreak.

 

In Germany, the rearranged Bundesliga match between rivals Borussia Monchengladbach and Cologne, which was originally cancelled due to Storm Ciara, will now be played behind closed doors on Wednesday.

All sporting activity in Italy is suspended until April 3 by the country's Olympic Committee, in a decision pending government ratification made on Monday. In a statement, the committee conceded it does not have jurisdiction over international competitions. Following that, it was confirmed the Champions League clash between Barcelona and Napoli on March 18 will go ahead behind closed doors. The Italian club insisted reports claiming they wanted the match to be postponed were "fake news".

Wales will follow the advice of Italian authorities on whether Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey will be allowed to leave the country to take part in their home matches with Austria and the United States later this month, amid the lockdown on travel in Italy.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport released a statement insisting there was "no rationale" to postponing sporting events at this stage in the United Kingdom. Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney said the message sporting authorities had received from the government was "let's not panic".

Former Manchester United captain, Salford City co-owner and influential pundit Gary Neville has declared he is not in support of matches behind closed doors. "If it's necessary to shut down stadiums the associations must find a way of delaying the season and playing the games when it is safe to do so to protect the revenues for clubs that require this income to survive," he tweeted.

Matches in Poland's top flight, the Ekstraklasa, will be played without supporters until further notice. The Europa League final is scheduled to be played in Gdansk on May 27.

Ticket sales for Northern Ireland's away Euro 2020 play-off match against Bosnia-Herzegovina on March 26 have been suspended amid fears over the outbreak.

The owner of Championship club Nottingham Forest, Evangelos Marinakis, has confirmed he has contracted COVID-19. He wrote on Instagram: "The virus has 'visited' me and I felt obliged to let the public know. I feel good as I take all the necessary measures and I discipline to the doctors' instructions."

Daniel Levy is known as a difficult negotiator.

The Tottenham chairman squeezed every penny out of United when the Red Devils turned to Dimitar Berbatov in 2008.

United also reportedly pulled out of the running for Luka Modric, who joined Real Madrid in 2012, as they did not want to haggle with Levy.

However, United could be ready to lock horns with Levy over Harry Kane's signature.

 

TOP STORY – WOODWARD READY TO BATTLE LEVY FOR KANE

Manchester United and Ed Woodward are ready to battle for the signing of Tottenham star Harry Kane, according to the Evening Standard.

Kane is reportedly considering his future at Tottenham and the England international striker is believed to be open to a switch to United at the end of the season.

United are yet to permanently replace Romelu Lukaku and Red Devils executive vice-chairman Woodward reportedly wants to lock horns with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy.

 

ROUND-UP

- Could United beat Borussia Dortmund to Jude Bellingham? Birmingham City's 16-year-old sensation Bellingham visited United's training ground on Monday and reportedly spoke to former manager Alex Ferguson as the Red Devils ramp up their interest. Bellingham is valued at around £30million.

- David Beckham's Inter Miami want to sign Manchester City star David Silva, reports The Mirror. Silva, out of contract at the end of the season, has been linked to fellow MLS franchise New York City – who are the sister club of Manchester City and part of the City Football Group.

- Tuttosport claims Juventus are targeting Valencia attacker Ferran Torres. The 20-year-old has also been linked to LaLiga champions Barcelona, Real Madrid and Premier League leaders Liverpool.

United are prepared to pay £70m for Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish, says The Mirror. Grealish has emerged as one of United's prime transfer targets and the Red Devils are ready to test Villa's resolve as the Premier League strugglers face relegation.

Paris Saint-Germain continue to target Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly. PSG have identified Koulibaly as Thiago Silva's replacement but Calciomercato says it will be difficult for the Ligue 1 holders to lower Napoli's demands. Koulibaly – also linked to the likes of United, Madrid, Tottenham and Manchester City – reportedly has a €150m termination clause.

- Kicker says Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich are considering signing on-loan Inter winger Ivan Perisic at season's end.

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.

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