Sunderland boss Gus Poyet has hailed the “unmissable” talents of Steven Gerrard ahead of the Black Cats’ home clash with Liverpool on Saturday. West Ham, Arsenal and Tottenham stand between Liverpool and Southampton in fourth but Rodgers remains confident they can get there. “It’s going to be tough but I am looking forward to the challenge,” he said. “We have a great spirit at the moment and footballing ideas are returning to our game and will push very hard in the second half of the season to bring success here. “The players are improving and we can see how seven points may seem a lot but it certainly can be whittled away. “You just have to consistently win games and perform well and that is our idea.” Gerrard will be making potentially his final appearance as a player in the north east when he steps out at the Stadium of Light for the lunchtime kick-off – and he will do so with the glowing endorsement of Poyet. Poyet said: “If I was a football fan I would want to be at the stadium because I would not want to miss the chance to watch Steven Gerrard live for maybe the last time in the north east. “He is worth buying a ticket for because there are not many like him and he is going to be missed. He is different and it is great to get the opportunity to watch him live.” Poyet has told his players they must start turning their recent glut of draws into wins if they are to put breathing space between themselves and the bottom three in the new year. Last weekend’s FA Cup third-round win over Leeds provided signs of a turning point with Dutchman Patrick van Aanholt returning from injury to grab the only goal of the game. Poyet said: “We had a difficult month against lots of top teams and although I don’t think we did fantastic we did okay. “Now we go into the second part (of the season) knowing we need to win more games and we need to be more clinical at home. Everything starts against Liverpool and the challenge is clear.” Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers will not have any of his injured players back. Midfielders Adam Lallana (thigh) and Joe Allen (knee), defenders Glen Johnson (thigh) and Jon Flanagan (knee) and goalkeeper Brad Jones (thigh) all remain sidelined. Striker Daniel Sturridge is back in the country but still a fortnight away from a long-awaited return from a thigh problem while defender Kolo Toure is on African Cup of Nations duty with Ivory Coast. Press Association
Update on the latest in sports: Only five months ago the Olympic body strengthened its ban on political statements by specifying that gestures such as taking a knee or raising a fist on a medal podium remain prohibited.The Olympic body’s public stance eased slightly Wednesday when its president Thomas Bach said the in-house athlete committee would “explore different ways” how opinions could be expressed. Bach says he opposes what he calls “potentially divisive demonstrations.”BROWN-DROPPING SPORTSBrown reinstates track, cross country, in diversity movePROVIDENCE. R.I. (AP) — Brown University has reinstated its men’s varsity track and cross country programs. The school president said dropping the teams to club status would have had a negative effect on efforts to build and maintain diversity on campus, particularly for African Americans. The league suspended play on March 12 because of the coronavirus outbreak after its teams had played just two games.The league’s 26 teams will be divided into six groups for the opening round of the tournament played without fans at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World. Sixteen teams will advance to the knockout round, with the winner earning a spot in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League.Following the tournament, teams will resume the season in their home markets.SOCCER-MANCHESTER UNITEDManchester United calls off exhibition game after rival coach tests positive Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditIOC-ATHLETE PROTESTIOC could allow stronger protests by athletes at OlympicsGENEVA (AP) — During a global wave of demonstrations against racism, the IOC says it’s opening talks that could let athletes make stronger protests at the Olympic Games. Qualifying extended for Ryder CupUNDATED (AP) — Steve Stricker now gets six captain’s picks for his U.S. Ryder Cup team, and qualifying has been extended by one week.The changes announced Wednesday account for golf not being played for three months during the coronavirus pandemic. Those three months wiped out three majors from the qualifying period. It all depends on whether the Ryder Cup is played Sept. 25-27 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin as scheduled. A decision is expected by the end of the month.Players lost nine events that offered qualifying points.The change means Justin Thomas and Tiger Woods are now outside the automatic qualifiers. But qualifying is just over 60% completed. TENNIS-FEDERERFederer won’t return this yearLONDON (AP) — Roger Federer will miss whatever remains of the coronavirus-impacted 2020 tennis season because of a setback in his recovery from surgery on his right knee.The 20-time major champion had arthroscopic surgery on his knee in February. Federer posted a statement on Twitter to say he needed an “additional quick arthroscopic procedure” and will take his time to return to 100% fitness.The 38-year-old Federer had initially planned to be sidelined for at least four months but has barely missed any elite tennis since his surgery because the tour has been suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic. MANCHESTER, England (AP) — The British soccer team Manchester United has had to cancel one of its exhibition matches ahead of the resumption of the Premier League after the manager of the opposing team tested positive for the coronavirus.Stoke manager Michael O’Neill had tested negative in five previous rounds of COVID-19 checks before a positive result came from a test administered Monday.Stoke had been scheduled to play United at the Premier League team’s Carrington training center on Tuesday. That was the day O’Neill found out about the positive test. The game was canceled.O’Neill was never on site at United’s training center and the teams’ players hadn’t mixed.GOLF-RYDER CUP One more player is still to be announced for each of the men’s and women’s events.Organizers plan to play on grass from July 13-15 and then on hard courts from July 17-19. No fans are expected to be able to attend amid the coronavirus pandemic.TENNIS-US OPENStacey Allaster US Open’s 1st female tournament directorNEW YORK (AP) — Stacey Allaster is taking over as the U.S. Open’s tournament director. Allaster is the first woman to hold that job at the American Grand Slam tennis tournament. She is a former CEO of the WTA women’s tour and has worked at the U.S. Tennis Association since 2016. Allaster pushed for changes at the Open such as the serve clock and warmup clock and lobbied for coaching to be allowed during matches. The USTA announced this week it had eliminated 110 positions from its national staff and is expected to decide as soon as next week whether to hold the U.S. Open. Associated Press BOXING-FURY-JOSHUATyson Fury and Anthony Joshua agree to two-fight dealLONDON (AP) — An all-British world heavyweight title showdown between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury is a step closer.Fury says that an agreement has been reached with Joshua’s camp on a two-fight deal between the current holders of the heavyweight belts. The first fight would take place in 2021.Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, earlier Wednesday told British broadcaster Sky Sports that specific dates and venues have not been finalized and contracts have not been signed, but that the sides have agreed on the financial terms. A letter sent and signed by a list of professional athletes including Megan Rapinoe, Billie Jean King, Jason Collins and Sue Bird calls for the NCAA to move the games set to be held next March at Boise State University.The Idaho law applies to all sports teams sponsored by public schools, colleges and universities. A girls’ or women’s team will not be open to transgender students who identify as female.NFL-PANTHERS-RICHARDSON STATUECHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A statue of former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson has been removed from the spot where it stood outside the team’s stadium for nearly 25 years.A team statement said that it was concerned about possible attempts to take it down. The team didn’t say where the statue would be relocated. The reversal came two weeks after the school announced it would reduce its number of varsity sports from 38 to 29 in a move designed to make the Bears more competitive in the Ivy League.Brown president Christina H. Paxson wrote in a letter to the campus community she had received strong feedback against the original decision.NCAA TOURNAMENT-IDAHORights groups, athletes ask NCAA to move tourney from IdahoBOISE, Idaho (AP) — Groups that advocate for civil rights and women’s rights have joined notable athletes in asking the NCAA to move the first and second rounds of the 2021 men’s basketball tournament out of Idaho after the state passed a law banning transgender women from competing in women’s sports. Richardson announced in 2017 that he was putting the team up for sale after a Sports Illustrated report, citing unidentified sources, said he made sexually suggestive comments to women and directed a racial slur at an African American team scout.Aerial video showed a huge crane lifting the statue from its pedestal to a flatbed tractor-trailer. MLS TOURNAMENTMLS to resume with tournamentUNDATED (AP) — Major League Soccer is set to resume its season with a tournament starting July 8 in Florida. Coca-Cola and MLB announced a partnership in April 2017, and said then that the company also had partnerships with 18 of the 30 clubs.Coca-Cola’s decision was first reported by the Sports Business Journal.PepsiCo Inc. sponsored MLB from 1997-2016. First, Fury plans fight Deontay Wilder for a third time. Joshua is also set to fight against mandatory IBF challenger Kubrat Pulev.MLB-COCA COLACoca-Cola ends its sponsorship of Major League BaseballATLANTA (AP) — The Coca-Cola Co. has ended its sponsorship of Major League Baseball after three seasons.“Following a review of all Coca-Cola North America marketing assets at the conclusion of 2019, we made the decision to end our national sponsorship with MLB,” company spokeswoman Kate Hartman said in an email Wednesday. “We will continue to support 16 MLB teams at the local level.” June 10, 2020 TENNIS-KVITOVATwo-time Wimbledon champ added to exhibition lineupUNDATED (AP) — Petra Kvitova will play at a tennis exhibition event next month in Berlin and Tommy Haas will come out of retirement to join in.Organizers added the two-time Wimbledon champion to play against a women’s lineup of Elina Svitolina, Kiki Bertens, Julia Goerges and Andrea Petkovic.Haas hasn’t played since 2017 and is tournament director of the Indian Wells event. He was added to a men’s tournament alongside Dominic 8, Alexander Zverev, Nick Kyrgios and Jannik Sinner.