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Football news

Walcott injury blow for Arsenal

Arsene Wenger has ruled Theo Walcott out for the remainder of the season after the midfielder hobbled off the Emirates pitch in Arsenal’s 0-0 draw with Chelsea on Saturday.

However, the Arsenal manager believes Walcott will recover in time for England’s assault on Euro 2012.

Wenger said: “First we assessed the hamstring, he wanted to go on and stay on the pitch, and I think he should have gone off straight away because the second time it was a real serious injury.

“He should be OK to play for England but I don’t think he will be ready to play for us.”

Balotelli boost

Mario Balotelli will be an integral part of Italy’s European Championship squad, national team coach Cesare Prandelli said.

The Man. City forward’s participation had been called into question following his latest indiscretion, when he received a three-match ban for being sent off against Arsenal.

Prandelli originally said he would look into the incident but now the Italy coach insists he cannot do without the enigmatic star.

“I liked the fact he took responsibility after the recent event with City,” Prandelli said.

“I like people who face up to things. I never thought of leaving him out, he’s a fixed part of the national team.”

Olympic list annoys Ferguson

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson is fuming after being told Wayne Rooney is on the shortlist for the GB squad at the London Olympics despite the striker being widely expected to go to Euro 2012 with England.

Soccer bosses had agreed that any player turning out for England in June would not be considered for the Olympics but Rooney is suspended for the first two Euro matches.

“It’s serious, this is the start of the season we are talking about.

“It’s ridiculous,” Ferguson said, annoyed that Rooney and nine other United players are on the 80-man shortlist drawn up by Games coach Stuart Pearce.

Pep congratulates ‘champions’ Real

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola hailed Real Madrid as the new Spanish champions after his side lost 2-1 to their bitter rivals at Camp Nou late Saturday.

The defeat left Real seven points clear with just four games left and comfortably within reach of their first La Liga title since 2008 and their 32nd in history.

“I congratulate Real for their victory and also for their league title which I have no doubt they have clinched on Saturday,” said Guardiola, whose side had won the last three league titles.

“We played a good match, but it wasn’t good enough. We played the kind of game that we needed to but we just couldn’t do it.”

CLeague within reach says Pardew

Alan Pardew admitted Newcastle were daring to dream of Champions League qualification after an emphatic win over Stoke lifted the Magpies into fourth place.

Victory means Pardew’s side have to be regarded as genuine contenders for a top-four finish despite a run-in that features games against Man. City, Chel-sea, Wigan and Everton.

“The Champions League is still a possibility and we are not hiding from that,” said Pardew.

“Qualification for the Europa League is already a big achievement for this club. But we haven’t lost sight of the fact that the city feels there’s a chance to do something really special. With four games left, we can still get into the Champions League.”

Muamba hopes to play again

Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba has said he wants to play football again and thanked God for the “miracle” that allowed him to survive suffering a cardiac arrest on the pitch.

“It would be great to play football again and I hope that will happen. But it’s even greater just to live life and love my family.

“I’m a lucky man,” he said.

The 24-year-old was left fighting for his life after keeling over during the first half of Bolton’s FA Cup quarter-final at Tottenham on March 17.

“I asked God to protect me – and he didn’t let me down,” he added.

“What happened to me was really more than a miracle.”

Game halted by tennis ball protest

Sevilla’s La Liga match at home to Levante was briefly suspended late Saturday when fans threw scores of tennis balls onto the pitch in protest over the kick-off time.

The game at the Sanchez Pizjuan had been moved back to 22.30 because of the ‘Clasico’ between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

The protest mirrored a similar incident in 2010 by fans of Basel, who showered the pitch with tennis balls during a game after the kick-off time was changed.

When play resumed, Alvaro Negredo gave Sevilla the lead, Arouna Kone levelled for the visitors and Negredo missed a late penalty as the match ended 1-1.

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