Middlesbrough have sacked Jonathan Woodgate and replaced him as head coach with Neil Warnock.

Woodgate was dismissed early on Tuesday, with former Cardiff City boss Warnock taking charge with immediate effect.

"The club would like to place on record its thanks to Jonathan for all his work in the role of head coach," the club confirmed via a brief statement.

Boro are 21st in the Championship table with just eight matches remaining and only above the relegation zone on goal difference.

They lost 3-0 at home to Swansea City last Saturday in their first match since the coronavirus pandemic forced the suspension of the season in March.

Woodgate, who finished his playing career at the Riverside Stadium, was only appointed head coach last June.

Warnock left Cardiff last November, having taken the Bluebirds to the Premier League in 2018 but failed to prevent them being relegated back to the second tier last season.

The 71-year-old's first match in charge will be away to Stoke City on Saturday.

The queue to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho is long.

Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid are all reportedly eyeing the England international.

United, though, are prepared to wait.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED TO BIDE TIME OVER SANCHO

Manchester United are waiting for Jadon Sancho's price to drop before making a move for the Borussia Dortmund star, according to the Daily Mail.

Sancho has been tipped to join Premier League giants United at the end of the season, though Liverpool, Chelsea, former club Manchester City and Real Madrid are also believed to be interested.

However, United are hoping to drive down the £100million (€110m) price tag.

 

ROUND-UP

Dortmund, meanwhile, have beaten United to the signing of Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham. That is according to ESPN, with the Bundesliga side set to announce the 16-year-old's arrival in the coming days.

- Could Arsenal and Roma be involved in a swap deal? The Daily Star says Arsenal are hoping for Henrikh Mkhitaryan to join Roma on a permanent basis, in exchange for Justin Kluivert.

Barcelona are desperate to sell before the end of the month to balance their accounts, claims Sport. The LaLiga giants are working hard on moving Jean-Clair Todibo and Philippe Coutinho out the door. Barca are willing to accept €70m (£63m) for Coutinho, who has been linked to Chelsea, Tottenham and Newcastle United.

- Il Mattino and Calciomercato.com report Arkadiusz Milik is discussing a new contract with Napoli. The Poland international has been linked to Serie A champions Juventus, Inter, Milan, Tottenham and Arsenal.

- Italian journalist Nicolo Schira says Inter are looking to sign Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang if Lautaro Martinez joins BarcaParis Saint-Germain have also emerged as a possible destination for Aubameyang.

Leeds United failed to take a major step towards securing Premier League promotion as they slumped to a 2-0 loss at Cardiff City.

Victory for Leeds would have given them a 10-point lead over third-placed Fulham but they were undone by a clinical Cardiff side.

Junior Hoilett pounced on Kalvin Phillips' misplaced pass to find the net from 20 yards in the 36th minute and Cardiff made the game safe 19 minutes from time when another wayward ball from the back was punished by Robert Glatzel's half-volley.

Leeds, who stay second, will get another chance to increase their lead over Fulham on Saturday when the Cottagers visit Elland Road. Cardiff are only outside the play-off places on goal difference.

West Brom nudged ahead of Leeds United at the top of the Championship but a 0-0 draw with Birmingham City appeared to be a blow to the title hopes of Slaven Bilic's team.

Yet the top two in England's second tier look increasingly likely to be the pair promoted to the Premier League, with third-placed Fulham suffering a damaging home defeat against Brentford.

In the first matches following the league's three-month coronavirus suspension, a new hero emerged for mid-table Derby County as 18-year-old Louie Sibley scored a hat-trick in their win at Millwall.

And Rhian Brewster, a striker on loan from Liverpool, gave Swansea City's play-off hopes a boost by netting twice at Middlesbrough, as well as making a powerful political statement.

POINT A MIXED BLESSING FOR BAGGIES

With Leeds in action at Cardiff City on Sunday, West Brom had an opportunity to go two points clear of Marcelo Bielsa's team as the league resumed.

Bilic's players dominated the derby clash and had a host of chances but could not find a breakthrough, and a stalemate at the Hawthorns potentially plays into the hands of Leeds.

The top two are now level on points, with West Brom top on goal difference, but Leeds will have the chance to go three clear before the next round of games.

BEES STING NEIGHBOURS

Said Benrahma and Emiliano Marcondes scored late for Brentford in a 2-0 win at promotion rivals Fulham, a result that leaves West Brom and Leeds seven points clear with eight games remaining for the play-off pack.

Nottingham Forest were heading for victory at Sheffield Wednesday after Joe Lolley gave the visitors a 69th-minute lead, only for Connor Wickham to grab a stoppage-time leveller for the Owls.

Forest sit fifth, four points clear of a Preston North End side who were held 1-1 at Luton Town, Callum McManaman firing a late equaliser for the hosts, who nevertheless fell to the foot of the table.

KING LOUIE

Blackburn Rovers beat Bristol City 3-1 in a battle between teams fighting with Preston for sixth place, but the individual performance of the day came from Sibley, whose heroics guided Derby to their 3-2 win at Millwall.

"I'm absolutely buzzing," Sibley told Rams TV. "To get that hat-trick was just unbelievable. When the third goal went in, I couldn't stop smiling."

Brewster was not far behind, his double steering Swansea to a 3-0 victory at lowly Middlesbrough.

Brewster held up a shirt that read "our colour is not a crime" after his first goal, expressing support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

TIGERS ON THE SLIDE

Wigan Athletic were 2-0 winners at fellow strugglers Huddersfield Town, while Hull City slipped into the bottom three after losing 1-0 at home against Charlton Athletic.

Barnsley climbed off the bottom by winning 1-0 at QPR, and Stoke City drew 1-1 at Reading.

Sabri Lamouchi has agreed a new contract with Nottingham Forest, who are battling to win promotion from the Championship.

Former France international Lamouchi was appointed as head coach on a 12-month deal a year ago, replacing Martin O'Neill, who lasted just five months in charge at the City Ground.

Forest did not disclose the length of Lamouchi's new terms, but reports suggest the former Ivory Coast coach has agreed a two-year deal with the option for a third.

Lamouchi has led Forest to fifth in the Championship table after 37 matches and their bid to reach the Premier League resumes at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday when England's second tier gets back underway following the enforced three-month break due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"I am honoured to be staying at this fantastic football club. It was always my intention to stay here for a long period when I signed last year," Lamouchi told the club's official website.

"We have started to build a good team with fantastic characters and I am so pleased to be able to continue on my journey with them.

"I feel humbled by the level of support the fans have shown me since I arrived on day one and I am truly grateful for this.

"I am also thankful for the backing of our owner, Mr [Evangelos] Marinakis, whose support for both myself and the team has been exceptional from the very beginning."

Lionel Messi is reportedly set to re-sign with Barcelona.

The Argentina star is out of contract at Camp Nou next year, but is seemingly set to extend his stay with the LaLiga giants a little longer.

Messi, 32, has spent his entire professional career at Barcelona – and he may yet end up a one-club player.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI TO EXTEND BARCELONA CONTRACT UNTIL 2023

Messi will extend his contract at Barcelona until 2023, according to Mundo Deportivo.

The report says the forward will get to decide if he wants to leave the club before then.

Messi is enjoying another fine season with Barcelona, scoring 26 goals in 33 games in all competitions.

ROUND-UP

- Tottenham want to hold onto their stars. The Telegraph reports chairman Daniel Levy is eager to keep Spurs' best players, including Harry Kane – who has been linked to Real Madrid – and Dele Alli and Son Heung-min.

- It remains to be seen if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will stay at Arsenal. CalcioMercato reports the forward – out of contract until 2021 – is open to a move to Inter, but the Gabon international is not among the Serie A club's top choices if they need to replace Lautaro Martinez, who is wanted by Barcelona.

- Madrid are reportedly eager to sign Rennes midfielder Eduardo Camavinga. But Sport says the Ligue 1 club are working to extend the the 17-year-old's contract, with his deal running until 2022.

- Liverpool could be set to make changes. The Sun reports Xherdan Shaqiri, Divock Origi and Dejan Lovren could make exits, while Marko Grujic and Harry Wilson may leave on permanent deals. It also says Liverpool are set to give Naby Keita one more season to prove his worth.

- Borussia Dortmund seem some way off landing Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham. Bild reports the Bundesliga club have offered just a little more than €20million (£17.9m) for Bellingham, who reportedly has a release clause of €35m (£31.4m).

- Empoli midfielder Samuele Ricci is reportedly catching the eye. CalcioMercato says Milan have kept an eye on the 18-year-old, while Napoli and Borussia Dortmund are also said to be interested.

Eight individuals connected to Championship clubs have tested positive for coronavirus in the latest round of testing, the English Football League (EFL) has confirmed.

There were 2,213 tests conducted on players and staff across all 24 clubs in the division, with the positive results coming from six teams.

An EFL statement released on Wednesday read: "Those players or club staff who have tested positive will now self-isolate in line with the guidelines provided by the EFL.

"Only those who have tested negative will be permitted to enter training ground facilities."

The Championship is set to resume on Saturday, three days after the Premier League recommences, so any people who tested positive in this round will have to miss the first batch of matches.

Brentford, who face Fulham in the English second-tier's first game back, confirmed they had returned one of the positive tests, not specifying whether it was a player.

Across League One and League Two, 428 players and staff were tested from a total of eight teams.

Four of those tests returned a positive result.

Manchester United know what they will need to pay for Aston Villa star Jack Grealish, and they may look elsewhere.

Grealish has been linked with a move to Old Trafford after an impressive campaign with Villa.

However, United could opt for a cheaper alternative.

 

TOP STORY – VILLA WANT £80M FOR MAN UTD TARGET GREALISH

Aston Villa want at least £80million for Jack Grealish amid links to Manchester United, according to the Daily Mail.

The report says Villa also have hope of keeping the attacker if they can avoid Premier League relegation.

Grealish, 24, has scored seven goals and provided six assists in 26 Premier League games this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Could Manchester United look elsewhere? The Sun reports United are eyeing Bayer Leverkusen forward Leon Bailey as a cheaper alternative to Grealish and Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho.

- Staying at Old Trafford and France Football claims Manchester United have made contact with Willian, who is coming out of contract at Chelsea.

- Miralem Pjanic's Juventus future seems unclear. Sport reports the midfielder is moving away from the Serie A club amid links to Barcelona and Chelsea.

- Perhaps Juventus and Chelsea could be set for a swap deal. The Sun says Chelsea are set to be offered Adrien Rabiot and Federico Bernardeschi for Jorginho and Marcos Alonso.

- Another player who has been linked to Manchester United is Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham. However, BILD reports Borussia Dortmund have reached an agreement with the 16-year-old midfielder, but are having problems with the transfer fee.

- On loan at Borussia Dortmund since 2018, Achraf Hakimi is due to return to Real Madrid. However, AS reports Bayern Munich are eager to sign the full-back and are willing to offer a sizeable transfer fee and salary.

Chelsea thrashed QPR 7-1 in a friendly match on Sunday, with midfielders Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Billy Gilmour each scoring twice.

Further goals from Mason Mount, Willian and Olivier Giroud helped Frank Lampard's side to an emphatic win at Stamford Bridge as preparations for the Premier League's return continue.

Loftus-Cheek has not made a senior competitive appearance for Chelsea since last season due to a ruptured Achilles sustained last May.

N'Golo Kante started the match against the Championship side, the France star having only resumed team training this week.

Chelsea's win came after a 1-0 defeat of Reading at their Cobham training base in a previous behind-closed-doors friendly.

The Blues are due to resume their league campaign next Sunday against Aston Villa at Villa Park.

Lampard's men were fourth in the table when the competition was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Jadon Sancho's future could be resolved sooner rather than later.

The England international is tipped to return to his homeland after leaving Manchester City for Borussia Dortmund in 2017.

Premier League leaders Liverpool are reportedly at the front of the queue for the 20-year-old attacker.

 

TOP STORY – REDS IN POLE POSITION FOR SANCHO

Liverpool are leading the race to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to Le10 Sport.

Sancho is a player in demand, the former Manchester City youngster linked with a return to England via Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool.

Real Madrid are also reportedly interested, but Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool appear to be favourites to land the England international if Sadio Mane leaves Anfield.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims United are considering a move for Lazio striker Ciro Immobile. The Italy international has scored a Serie A-high 27 goals this season amid links to Liverpool and Napoli.

Chelsea are not close to reaching an agreement over Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz, says The Athletic. Chelsea have emerged as favourites to sign Havertz, who is also reportedly wanted by United, Liverpool, Madrid and Barcelona. But Chelsea – who are set to bring RB Leipzig's Timo Werner to Stamford Bridge – are apparently nowhere near matching Leverkusen's asking price.

- The Independent reports Dortmund are set to beat United to Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham. The 16-year-old is coveted by Dortmund and United, however, the Bundesliga side are viewed as the more attractive option to give the wonderkid game time.

- Could Dries Mertens leave Napoli for Barcelona? Mertens' contract is set to expire, though the Belgium forward has been tipped to sign an extension. Het Nieuwsblad says Barca could turn to the Napoli star if they are unable to prise Lautaro Martinez from Inter.

Chelsea believe Champions League football will convince Leicester City's Ben Chilwell to snub Manchester City for the London club, according to the Daily Mail. Chelsea have been linked to another full-back – France Football claims the Blues are eyeing Paris Saint-Germain's Layvin Kurzawa, who is available on a free transfer and wanted by the likes of Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Inter.

- Tuttosport says Inter are targeting Nice centre-back Malang Sarr. The 21-year-old has also been linked to Pep Guardiola's City.

- According to The Telegraph, Barca are prepared to pay a portion of Philippe Coutinho's wage to help the Brazilian leave Camp Nou. Tottenham and Newcastle United are possible destinations.

Liverpool are eyeing a double transfer raid on Wolves for stars Ruben Neves and Adama Traore, says The Sun.

Premier League clubs are facing a staggering collective loss of over £1billion in revenue for the 2019-20 season as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, financial firm Deloitte has predicted.

In the 2018-19 season, the 20 top-flight teams in England generated over £5bn for the first time, but the suspension of this campaign due to the global health crisis is set to hit teams hard in the pocket.

Football in the Premier League has been on halt since March and is scheduled to return behind closed doors next week.

Deloitte have forecast teams are facing an accumulative, permanent loss of £500m as a result of rebates owed to broadcasters and loss of matchday revenue.

Dan Jones, the head of Deloitte's sports business group, said: "We expect the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to cause significant revenue reduction and operating losses across European football in the current season's financial results.

"Clubs are having to weather multiple financial impacts, including rebates or deferrals of commercial and broadcast incomes, as well as the loss of matchday income and other event-related revenue."

Deloitte predicted clubs will earn approximately half of what they normally would in matchday revenue in 2020-21, but that estimated figure of £350m is set to be lost entirely if supporters cannot return to stadiums.

"Exactly how that half comes to pass is open to a lot of speculation by a lot of people at the moment but it's an estimate of where we think we might get to," Jones said.

"That assumes some form of phased opening over time but hopefully by the end of next season being back to having full stadia again.

"Football returning - in a safe and sensible way - is clearly important to limiting the financial impact that the pandemic has had.

"For 18-19 for the full year we had £680m of Premier League matchday revenue. For 20-21 we have assumed £350m.

"So if you allow for a bit of inflation you'd be thinking £700m or thereabouts would have been the right number, so we have gone for £350m as an estimate."

The report said Europe's big five leagues of England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France generated a record £15bn in revenue.

It also said all three tiers of the English Football League achieved over £1bn in revenue for the first time.

However, Championship clubs lost a combined £300m and have a whopping players-wages-to-turnover ratio of 107 per cent as teams chase the Premier League dream.

Jones believes a salary cap should be enforced to help long-term survival.

"You've got 107 per cent of revenue going out on wages. You can see the problem looming," he added.

"A salary cap is a blunt instrument, but if you can only spend 70 per cent of revenue on salary, and applied that in 2018-19, you take £300m out of the wage bill and wipe out the losses."

Stoke City manager Michael O'Neill has tested positive for COVID-19, the Championship club have announced.

The former Northern Ireland boss returned the adverse result during the sixth round of testing as England's second tier gears up to relaunch next week.

O'Neill, 50, had tested negative in the previous five rounds.

Confirming the news, Stoke said in a statement on Tuesday: "He will now follow the relevant guidance and undergo a period of isolation, whilst continuing to be in regular virtual contact with his coaching staff and players."

Assistant manager Billy McKinlay will take charge of Stoke's preparations to face Reading on June 20 as O'Neill stays away.

Following his appointment last November, with the Potters at the foot of the Championship table, O'Neill inspired a turnaround in fortunes to lift the team up to 17th place.

The threat of relegation remains, as Stoke sit three points better off than third-bottom Charlton Athletic with nine matches still to play.

Adama Traore has been linked with a move to Liverpool but his former manager Tony Pulis thinks he should "settle down" at Wolves and aim for the Spain squad.

Barcelona youth product Traore has enjoyed a fantastic 2019-20 at Wolves, where he has scored four goals and supplied seven assists in the Premier League while playing primarily as a wing-back under Nuno Espirito Santo.

The 24-year-old, with whom Pulis retains a good relationship following their time together at Middlesbrough, is reportedly wanted by league leaders Liverpool, plus Manchester City and Manchester United.

Former Stoke City boss Pulis believes Traore should be looking to lay down roots at Molineux and focus on breaking into the Spain set-up ahead of Euro 2020, which will be held next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Pulis told Stats Perform News: "I think Adama always had the ability to play. The big thing was his confidence. I think I probably caught him at the right time. He had gone and worked for a few managers who weren't enamoured enough to play him on a regular basis.

"I obviously knew him as a West Brom manager watching [Aston] Villa, watched him in the reserves a few times. His pace and balance was just extraordinary.

"Going to Middlesbrough, he wasn't in the team when I got there but I wanted to make him a focal point of the team. We did that and the biggest thing with him is that he grew in confidence and he started to believe in himself.

"I made him my best friend. He used to come in and make me a cup of coffee after lunch and we would sit down and watch videos. He became a friend and he knew he'd be first pick on the team sheet. And the team understood what we could get from him and what we couldn't. Having said that, as the season progressed, he learned the other side of the game [defensive] well as well.

"You meet people in life who are really, really good people, and Adama is a really good person. You hope and pray those people get everything out of life that they possibly can.

"He's gone to Wolves - we didn't want to get rid of him at Middlesbrough, but the only problem was the finances… He went to the right club, stepped up and has murdered it.

"I think he can only get better. His temperament and personality is first class. His next step, I speak to him now and then, his next step is to get a place in the Spanish side.

"I'll be quite content for him, and I said this to him, to settle down. He seems happy at Wolves. He's playing under a manager that's confident with him and gives the respect Adama needs.

"But Adama's big challenge is seeing if he can get a place in the Spanish team and keep it."

During his time at the Riverside, Pulis did not enjoy the same sort of relationship with striker Martin Braithwaite, whom he is surprised to see now playing at LaLiga champions Barcelona.

"He was completely different to Adama in personality. Different traits as a player. I never thought Braithwaite wanted to be at Middlesbrough although he signed a contract," said Pulis.

"He spent more time telling me that he wanted to leave than be at the club. In the end I hope and pray that the club got a good price for him because they paid a lot for him. They certainly paid him an enormous amount of money wages-wise, it was just extraordinary.

"Am I surprised he's gone to Barcelona? Yes. Is he playing every week? I don't know. Is he going to play every week? I don't know. Was he my cup of tea? Adama was. Braithwaite wasn't."

Promotion contenders Fulham and Brentford will meet at Craven Cottage in the first Championship game back from the coronavirus-enforced break.

The second tier will recommence on June 20, three days after the Premier League starts up again, having been on hold since March because of the global pandemic.

Third-placed Fulham will host London rivals Brentford, currently fourth, behind closed doors in the early kick-off on the same day that second-placed West Brom return to action with a derby of their own against Birmingham City.

Leaders Leeds United, who are bidding to return to the Premier League for the first time since they were relegated in 2004, face Cardiff City on June 21.

Each Championship club has nine games remaining, with the final round of fixtures set to be held on Wednesday, July 22.

On Sunday the English Football League confirmed that, of the 1,179 people they tested in the latest round of tests for people connected to Championship clubs, only two had returned positive COVID-19 tests.

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