Fikayo Tomori has credited Milan legend and current technical director Paolo Maldini with helping him improve his game after earning an England recall.

Tomori looked destined for a promising future at Chelsea, returning to the club in 2019-20 to play under Frank Lampard having also linked up with him the previous season at Derby County.

In the Championship, Tomori played 47 times as Derby got to the play-offs, and he proved an able back-up option upon his return to Stamford Bridge as he made 15 Premier League appearances – all as a starter – in 2019-20.

But things soon changed, the signing of Thiago Silva at the start of 2020-21 pushing Tomori further down the pecking order – when January came around, he had played in just one Premier League match and was seemingly heading out of the door.

Tomori joined Milan on loan and quickly established himself in the team, striking up a solid partnership with Simon Kjaer. He could not help the Rossoneri to a first Scudetto in 10 years, but they did end their seven-year Champions League hiatus and Tomori's loan was made permanent.

No team in Europe's top five leagues have kept more domestic clean sheets than Milan (eight) since the start of May, and Tomori's role landed him a recall to the England squad, with the 23-year-old lauding the influence of club great Maldini.

Speaking to reporters ahead of England's World Cup qualifier against Andorra, Tomori said: "When he [Maldini] was speaking to me, I was like, 'Wow, it's Paolo Maldini'.

 

"There is that pressure knowing he's watching every game, he's there at the training ground every day, so as a defender I want to impress him.

"When I was midway through my loan, we had a chat, I asked what he thinks about my game, what I need to improve.

"He's really engaging with all the defenders, and having a legend like that around, you're going to listen. It's a nice thing to have him around, and he's been a big help."

For a while it seemed Tomori and Lampard enjoyed a similarly close bond given their time together with Derby and then the Chelsea first team.

But shortly after leaving Chelsea, Tomori said in an interview that he felt the treatment of him by Lampard – who was sacked a matter of days after the defender left – was "personal".

However, Tomori says he has not spent time dwelling on such struggles.

"To be fair, since I've been at Milan I've not really thought about it," he continued. "It was difficult, when you aren't able to play, it is difficult.

"Being able to overcome that, forget about that is part of the reason why now it's going so well. I didn't really dwell on it, I moved on. It's part of football.

"I've a really good support system, and now I've overcome all that I want to keep progressing.

"Every player wants to play, and when that opportunity came at such a big club like Milan, I was so happy, excited, and I'm really happy it's gone so well so far.

"We've started the new season well and the club has shown a lot of faith in me. I'm happy, confident and feeling really settled, and it's led me to be here [back with the England squad]."

West Indies bowling legend turned commentator Michael Holding has accused the England team of displaying ‘western arrogance’ following the decision to withdraw from the tour of Pakistan.

Last month, the England Cricket Board announced the decision to pull out of the tour of Pakistan, which was expected to include matches for both the men’s and women’s teams.  The decision came sharply on the back of the New Zealand’s team's choice to pull out of a similarly planned tour after citing security concerns.

The ECB cited a concern for "mental and physical well-being" as the primary reason for taking the decision particularly as the group had ‘already coped with a long period of operating in restricted Covid environments’.  Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chair Ramiz Raja accused the ECB of failing a fellow member of the cricket fraternity and Holding was also not convinced by the body’s reasons.

"The ECB statement doesn't wash with me," the always forthright Holding said. "No substance."

"Nobody wants to come forward and face up to anything because they know what they did was wrong,” he added.

"So they put out a statement and hid behind a statement. It just reminds me of the rubbish they did with Black Lives Matter.

"I won't go back into that because I've said enough about that. But what that signal sends to me, is the same Western arrogance.

"I will treat you how I feel like treating you, it doesn't matter what you think, I'll just do what I want."

 

James Ward-Prowse has received a late England call-up to replace the injured Kalvin Phillips for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary.

Leeds United midfielder Phillips has been ruled out with a calf strain he suffered in his club's 1-0 win over Watford on Saturday.

Ward-Prowse, who became the fourth Southampton player to both score and be sent off in a Premier League match after Peter Crouch (May 2005), Sadio Mane (October 2015) and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (December 2018) after he followed up a successfully converted penalty with a straight red card in the defeat to Chelsea on Saturday, is the latest addition to the squad for manager Gareth Southgate.

England's manager is already without a host of players for the October fixtures.

Reece James was ruled out on Monday, the Chelsea defender replaced by club colleague Ben Chilwell, who was part of England's Euro 2020 squad but did not feature in the tournament.

Meanwhile, ex-Blues striker Tammy Abraham was another to be drafted in, his addition coming amid the absences of Patrick Bamford, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Marcus Rashford.

Defensive duo Harry Maguire and Trent-Alexander Arnold are also sidelined, while Southgate opted to leave out Jude Bellingham and Mason Greenwood, allowing the young duo to rest.

Phillips started all seven games as Southgate's Three Lions reached the European Championship final. Indeed, only goalkeeper Jordan Pickford (690) and John Stones (679) played more minutes in the campaign.

The 25-year-old ended the tournament with a passing accuracy of 85.92 per cent, creating three chances in the process, though missed out on glory as Italy secured the trophy via a penalty shoot-out win at Wembley Stadium.

Sitting top of Group I in the quest to qualify for Qatar 2022, England visit Andorra on Saturday before hosting Hungary three days later.

All-rounder Sam Curran will miss England's Twenty20 World Cup campaign with a back injury.

Curran's older brother Tom has been called up to replace the 23-year-old, who suffered the setback while playing in the Indian Premier League for Chennai Super Kings at the weekend.

Scans revealed a lower-back issue, meaning disappointment for one sibling but an opportunity for another.

Surrey's Reece Topley will also join up with the squad after being added as a travelling reserve for the tournament in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

England's opening match is against West Indies, who beat them in the 2016 final, on October 23.

Raheem Sterling has praised the "fantastic job" done by Gareth Southgate in helping to change the perception of the England team, both with the national media and the supporters.

After a spell as interim boss, Southgate was appointed on a permanent basis in November 2016. Since then, he has steered England to a World Cup semi-final and the Euro 2020 final, where the Three Lions lost on penalties to Italy.

Sterling has been a key member of the squad during the current reign, having made his international debut under Rory Hodgson back in 2012.

"I feel like when I first went into the camp, it was very much them versus us, the media versus the players," Sterling, who has won 70 international caps and scored 18 goals, said in an interview with Sky Sports.

"When Gareth came in, he made it very clear what his intentions were, they were to make England challenge on all fronts, make us challenge at Euros and World Cups.

"If we were to do that, we had to change the perception in the media, public and us the players – we all had to be one if we wanted to achieve something with the national team.

"From the moment he [Southgate] came in, he really tried to work on building that relationship with the media and the fans and I think he's done a fantastic job at doing that."

The Manchester City forward scored three goals in the European Championship run, with the team as a whole embracing the opportunity to play on home soil in all bar one of their fixtures.

England have shown few signs of suffering a Euros hangover since the agonising defeat to Italy at Wembley Stadium; they sit top of their group in World Cup qualifying, despite a late equaliser by Poland last month ending their 100 per cent record.

Ahead of games against Andorra and Hungary, Sterling made clear how much the players appreciate the support they receive when representing their country.

"I think the fans are reconnected with the players again and you can see it when you go into the games, the players feel loved," Sterling added.

"Going into the games, even in the summer, you didn't feel any pressure. People might say 'you played every game at Wembley', but that's huge pressure as you're at home and people expect things from you."

England have called up Ben Chilwell to replace the injured Reece James, while Tammy Abraham features as a late inclusion for October's internationals.

Gareth Southgate named a 23-man squad on Thursday for World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary but has announced two changes to his group.

James, who suffered an ankle injury in Chelsea's 1-0 loss to Manchester City last month, is ruled out through injury and club colleague Chilwell takes his place.

The left-back was encouraged to prove his worth to both Southgate and Thomas Tuchel at club level after initially being left out, and he duly did so as he scored in a 3-1 defeat of Southampton on Saturday.

In that contest, Chilwell attempted four shots and made a game-high three key passes, subsequently earning a call-up at the expense of his team-mate, who was somewhat of a surprise inclusion in the first place.

Former Chelsea striker Abraham has also been included as a late call-up, with Southgate opting to extend his squad to 24 players due to the Roma forward's current form.

Abraham – who had not been selected since November 2020 – has six caps to his name and will have been disappointed with his initial omission, given the injuries to Patrick Bamford, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Marcus Rashford.

Abraham has scored twice and assisted as many in seven Serie A appearances for Jose Mourinho's men and he will now act as a likely deputy to Harry Kane, who has scored nine times in 13 internationals in 2021 for England.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will decide this week whether to go ahead with the upcoming Ashes Tour after communicating Cricket Australia's proposed arrangements with players.

The first Test of the Ashes is due to begin on December 8 at the Gabba in Brisbane, though the full length of the Tour is expected to be 11 weeks, and during that time the England team will have to live under restricted conditions in an attempt to prevent coronavirus outbreaks.

Australia has been one of the most restrictive countries in the world during the pandemic, with strict border rules in force since March 2020.

Its international borders are set to reopen in November, though Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggested last month that England will not benefit from any "special deals" regarding quarantine rules if they are to travel to Australia.

Nearly 57 per cent of Australians are fully vaccinated, while 82.5 per cent of Brits are, though all state and international borders are not expected to be open until regional and national vaccination rates hit 80 per cent.

With players and management informed over the weekend of what life will look like for them in Australia, the ECB board is set to make a final decision on whether to go ahead with the trip by the end of the week.

An ECB statement read: "Over the weekend we have been talking to England men's players and management to provide them with the latest information about the proposed arrangements for this winter's scheduled Ashes Tour.

"We remain in regular and positive dialogue with Cricket Australia over these arrangements as the picture is constantly evolving.

"With health and wellbeing at the forefront, our focus is to ensure the Tour can go ahead with conditions for players and management to perform at their best.

"We will continue talking to our players this week to share the latest information and seek feedback.

"Later this week the ECB Board will meet to decide whether the conditions in place are sufficient for the Tour to go ahead and enable the selection of a squad befitting a series of this significance."

Borussia Dortmund boss Marco Rose has welcomed Gareth Southgate's decision to leave Jude Bellingham out of England's latest squad.

Teenage midfielder Bellingham was a surprise omission from Southgate's 23-man group on Thursday after impressing for Dortmund in his second campaign at the club.

Southgate explained he left out the 18-year-old due to fears of burnout, with Manchester United's Mason Greenwood overlooked for the same reason.

Bellingham's 802 minutes of playing time this term is the most of any England-qualified player in Europe's top five leagues when taking all competitions into account.

Since making his Dortmund debut on September 14 last year, the Birmingham City academy product has played 56 matches, 43 of those coming from the start.

Rose is therefore grateful that the youngster will be given a chance to rest up.

"I think it's a good decision," Rose said at a news conference on Friday previewing his side's Bundesliga clash with Augsburg. "The reason is obvious to me.

"In spite of his capabilities, he is an 18-year-old and has very little rest. We have to take care of the boys and not burn them out. That's why I welcome the decision."

 

Bellingham's team-mate Erling Haaland will play no part in Saturday's visit of Augsburg as he continues to recover from a thigh injury that has ruled him out of the last two games.

Haaland has been named in Norway's squad for this month's World Cup qualifiers against Turkey and Montenegro, but Rose revealed the striker will not link up with his national side.

"We're going to keep him here for the time being and make the best possible use of the time," Rose said.

"He's asked every day when he can return, so the rest will do him good. He's going to stay here for the time being."

The loss of Haaland for another game will be a major blow for Dortmund, as he has scored 68 goals in 67 games since making his debut in January 2020.

Only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski, with 86 goals in 71 games in all competitions, has scored more times during that period among players from Europe's top five leagues.

Dortmund have won their past three Bundesliga home matches against Augsburg, with their only defeat in the last 10 meetings coming in February 2015. 

Tim Paine says the Ashes will go ahead as scheduled regardless of whether Joe Root and other key England players travel to Australia.

Root this week stated that he is "desperate" to do battle with fierce rivals Australia, but the England captain is not ready to commit to the tour until there is more clarity over coronavirus restrictions.

Jos Buttler is among the other England players who have made it clear they may pull out if their families are not allowed to head to Australia.

Talks between Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board over what protocols may be in place are ongoing, with players having already spent long periods in bio-secure bubbles at home and overseas.

Skipper Paine says he will lead his side out at The Gabba on December 8 come what may.

"The Ashes are going ahead - the first Test is on December 8 whether Joe's here or not," the wicketkeeper told SEN Hobart.

"They all want to come, there's no doubt about it.

"They're trying to get themselves the best possible conditions they can, but at the end of the day, we all are.

"It will be worked out above us and then they'll make a decision whether or not they'll get on that plane. There will be a squad of England players coming here for the first Test on December 8th."

Australia prime minister Scott Morrison last month warned England will not benefit from any "special deals" regarding quarantine rules when they arrive in the country.

Gareth Southgate is cautious of overusing Jude Bellingham and Mason Greenwood and has left the young pair out of England's squad for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

Bellingham and Greenwood were high-profile omissions from the 23-man group named by Southgate on Thursday, along with injured defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold and Harry Maguire.

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Bellingham has started all 10 games at club level this season and played an hour for England in their 4-0 win over Andorra earlier this month.

Greenwood has been used regularly by Manchester United this term, meanwhile, starting seven times and featuring from the bench on one occasion.

Bellingham's 802 minutes of playing time this term is the most of any England-qualified player in Europe's top five leagues when taking all competitions into account, while Greenwood's 634 minutes is the fourth-most of any United player.

Speaking at a news conference after announcing his squad on Thursday, Southgate said: "They're both in similar situations, young players with heavy workloads at the moment.

"I've spoken to both of them. Jude at the moment is playing a high level of matches with Champions League games, league games. As an 18-year-old he had a full season last season and then into the Euros with no break.

"We have to remember these lads are still physically growing, so when we talk about young player development we have to be really careful in how we handle them.

"These are two players we think can be really exciting for England's future. We don't want to overload them, we want to make sure we are making the right decisions with them."

With Maguire missing out through injury, Milan centre-back Fikayo Tomori has been called up nearly two years since earning his one and only cap against Kosovo.

Tomori has helped Milan to nine clean sheets in Serie A since arriving at San Siro from Chelsea in January on an initial loan deal that has since been made permanent, a tally that has been bettered by only three others.

He also ranks 11th for successful passes among defenders in the Italian top flight over that period, which played a part in Southgate's decision to recall the 23-year-old.

"I like Fikayo in terms of his aggressiveness of defending," Southgate said. "Because he's got speed he's confident enough to defend on the front foot and he's improving on the ball as well.

"I have been very impressed. I thought he finished last season well. We were tracking him well last season and he is playing well this season. 

"He is at a club that's expected to win every week. I thought he did well against Liverpool and Juventus recently."

Reece James and Mason Mount have also been selected for the games with Andorra and Hungary over the next fortnight, despite missing Chelsea's 1-0 loss to Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday as they continue to recover from injury.

Southgate explained: "They're clearly still to have appeared for their clubs so there's an unknown, but our understanding is Mason and Reece have a good chance for the weekend."

 

The other big news to come out of Southgate's penultimate squad selection of a memorable 2021 was the inclusion of Ollie Watkins and Aaron Ramsdale, the pair replacing Patrick Bamford and Nick Pope, respectively.

Ramsdale has made a positive start to life at Arsenal since ousting Bernd Leno as number one, his save percentage of 91.67 the second-best return of any keeper to have played at least three times for a team in Europe's top five leagues this term.

"Aaron was with us all summer and we had the opportunity to work with him for a long time and get to understand his strengths," Southgate said.

"Nick is still I think coming back from injury a little bit, but I think Aaron is just in a better vein of form at the moment.

"From Aaron's perspective, the move to a bigger club with higher expectations and a style of play where he is asked to build with his feet from the back, he's coping really well.

"I think that's an important factor for us when looking at the biggest matches, having a goalkeeper who has really adapted well to a move and is full of confidence."

 

England squad:

Sam Johnstone (West Brom), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal); Conor Coady (Wolves), Reece James (Chelsea), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Fikayo Tomori (Milan), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City); Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United), Declan Rice (West Ham); Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa).

Khadija 'Bunny' Shaw scored her first hat-trick for Manchester City on Wednesday to propel the team into the semi-finals of the Women’s FA Cup where they will face Chelsea on October 31.

Leonardo Bonucci has continued to rub salt into the wounds of England after Italy's success in the Euro 2020 final, saying Declan Rice played a part in motivating the tournament winners.

West Ham midfielder Rice said ahead of the final in July that England would be 10 times more ready than their opponents for the Wembley showpiece.

Those words, and the repetitive playing of England's Three Lions song after the country's semi-final win over Denmark, fuelled Bonucci and his team-mates, who ultimately won the competition on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

"We didn't pay much attention to it [the Three Lions song] until the Spain game," Bonucci, who ridiculed England's 'It's Coming Home' catchphrase on the pitch after Italy's win, said in an interview with The Athletic.

"Then the anger inside of us began to mount. We wanted to show them that the final hadn't already been decided. That they hadn't already won. 

"Hearing that song on repeat and the comment from Declan Rice saying England were 10 times more motivated to win than us – well, they're the kind of mistakes young players make. 

"You don't say that. You should never say you want something more than somebody else, or you're better than somebody else.

"You should always put yourself on the same level as your opponent, keep a low profile and strike at the right moment. That's what we did."

 

Italy also won their semi-final against Spain on penalties, and Bonucci felt Roberto Mancini's men had the right mix of confidence and humility.

The Juventus defender added: "We never said we were going to win, just that we were an inch away from going all the way and getting the right result.

"We were never presumptuous about it. We stayed humble and that's what made the difference.

"We had a great team, a great coach and a great staff behind us. To give our country and ourselves that kind of joy was something truly special."

The Jamaica Sunshine Girls are set to take on England in a three-match series dubbed the ‘Vitality Roses Reunited’ set for London, in November.

The teams were originally set to face-off in a series in January but that was postponed due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and strict travel restrictions.  The upcoming series will still be subject to Covid-19 travel restrictions but will be played in front of a maximum capacity stadium, with measures regarding crowd sizes eased in England.

The series will help both teams begin preparations for the next year’s Commonwealth Games, which will take part in Birmingham, England next year.  The Jamaicans have not played in an official international competition since the World Netball Cup in 2020.

The series is set to tip-off on November 28th at the Copper Box Arena, before moving on to the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham, with consecutive games on December 4 and December 5.

England's travelling party for the Ashes will not benefit from any "special deals" regarding quarantine rules when they arrive in Australia, according to the country's prime minister Scott Morrison.

The first Test of England's tour of Australia begins on December 8, though it has been reported that a host of players are considering withdrawing from travelling.

This would be due to the strict COVID-19 protocols in place for travellers arriving in Australia, with new arrivals having to undergo a mandatory isolation period in a hotel.

Earlier this year, tennis stars such as Novak Djokovic had to spend up to two weeks in their hotel rooms prior to taking part in the Australian Open.

Australia do plan to ease those restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers, but only once 80 per cent of the nation's adult population have received both doses.

Prime minister Morrison says that figure will hit 50 per cent this week, while he discussed the matter with United Kingdom counterpart Boris Johnson in Washington D.C.

However, he insisted England's squad would have no special arrangements made for them.

"I would love to see the Ashes go ahead, as I shared with Boris last night," Morrison said, as reported by BBC Sport.

"But there's no special deals there, because what we're looking to have is vaccinated people being able to travel.

"I don't see a great deal of difference in skilled workers or students who will be able to come to Australia when you reach those vaccination rates.

"Those who are coming for that purpose when it comes to their profession, which is playing cricket, I don't see the difference between that and someone who's coming as a skilled, qualified engineer or someone who's coming to be ready for study."

Cricket Australia is set to provide details around the travel and quarantine arrangements for the tour to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) this week. 

England players will then be able to make decisions on whether they wish to be included in. the squad, which will be announced in early October. 

Prime minister Johnson said: "I raised it and he said he was going to do his best for the families. He merely undertook to come back and see if he could find a solution."

Hungary have been ordered to play two home games, one suspended for two years, behind closed doors following the racial abuse of England players during their World Cup qualifier.

A 4-0 thrashing by Gareth Southgate's side in early September was overshadowed by reports of racial abuse directed at Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham by the home fans.

Objects were seen flying in Sterling's direction after his opener, with alleged monkey chants also coming from inside the Puskas Arena, as England coasted to victory.

FIFA's Disciplinary Committee has also issued the Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ) a fine of 200,000 Swiss francs (£158,000), with a qualifier against Albania on October 9 the game that will be played without spectators in Budapest.

A suspended penalty of a second game was imposed by the world's governing body for a probationary period of two years.

"After analysing and taking into consideration all the circumstances of the case, specifically the seriousness of the incidents (racist words and actions, throwing of objects, lighting of fireworks, blocked stairways), the Committee decided that the MLSZ would play its next two home matches in FIFA competitions without spectators, the second match being suspended for a probationary period of two years," a FIFA statement released on Tuesday read.

"FIFA's position remains firm and resolute in rejecting any form of racism and violence as well as any other form of discrimination or abuse. FIFA takes a clear zero tolerance stance against such abhorrent behaviour in football."

This is not the first time Hungary have been punished by football's governing bodies. In July, Hungary were ordered to play three UEFA home competition matches without supporters after incidents of racism and homophobia at Euro 2020.

The ban applies only to UEFA competitions and so will not come into effect until the next edition of the Nations League, which will be held between June and September 2022.

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