The NewsFuror

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

England suffer Terry injury blow

Russia v England
Luzhniki stadium
Wednesday, 17 October
Kick-off: 1600 BST

England captain John Terry is unlikely to play in Wednesday's Euro 2008 qualifier against Russia in Moscow.

The Chelsea defender took part in training on Tuesday at the Luzhniki stadium but was unable to complete the session after his knee locked.

Terry had been expected to play despite suffering a broken toe, fractured cheekbone as well as the knee injury.

Head coach Steve McClaren said: "John Terry is almost certainly ruled out - he could not complete the session."

The England captain took part in a warm-up and practice match on Tuesday but broke down after the players split into groups for the final 25 minutes of the session.

Sol Campbell deputised for Terry in Saturday's 3-0 win over Estonia at Wembley and the Portsmouth defender is expected to replace the Chelsea player again.

Even had Terry played against Russia he would have required a minor knee operation to remove some floating bone on his return to England.

The Chelsea defender expects to be back playing a week after having the operation.

England will reach the finals in Austria and Switzerland if they beat Russia. A draw would leave them needing a point from their final game against Croatia at Wembley on 21 November.

McClaren's squad arrived in a chilly Moscow late on Monday. The city had its first snow of the winter at the weekend but the forecast for Wednesday is cloudy, with temperatures of 9C.

A sell-out 80,000 crowd is expected at the Luzhniki Stadium, where the match will be played on an artificial surface. England trained on a similar pitch in Cheshire on Monday.

Massa's new deal ends Alonso link

Ferrari have extended Felipe Massa's contract to the end of the 2010 season.

The announcement ends speculation that there is a place in the team for Fernando Alonso if he leaves McLaren at the end of the season.

Massa joined Ferrari at the end of 2005 from Sauber after initially being signed by the Italian team in 2001.

The 26-year-old has won three races this year and is fourth in the championship, which ends at his home Grand Prix at Interlagos on Sunday.

Massa was handed the Ferrari race drive as team-mate to Michael Schumacher at the start of 2006, since when he has won five times in 34 races.

He finished third in the drivers' championship last year ahead of the likes of Giancarlo Fisichella and his current Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

Alonso's relationships with McLaren boss Ron Dennis and team-mate Lewis Hamilton have detioriated this season.

Earlier this month, the Spaniard complained that his team were not giving him "the treatment a two-time champion deserves".

Things had reached rock bottom following the 'Spygate' case which saw McLaren fined £49.2m and stripped of their constructors' points for 2007.

F1's governing body the FIA decided McLaren personnel, including Alonso and test driver Pedro de la Rosa, had used Ferrari data which should not have been in their hands.

It was widely reported that Alonso had warned Dennis he would go to the FIA with fresh evidence if he did not receive top-driver status at the team.

Dennis has already said he would not stand in Alonso's way if he wanted to leave the team.

Iraq fears action 'may escalate'

Unilateral action by Turkey in Iraq could have "very grave consequences" and set a worrying precedent, Iraq's deputy prime minister has warned.

Barham Saleh told the BBC such action could destabilise the region and prompt other neighbouring states to step in.

Turkey has said its patience has run out over the handling of Kurdish rebels based in northern Iraq.

It is seeking parliamentary permission for a cross-border operation to pursue Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) members.

Ankara argues the group is a terrorist organisation responsible for the deaths of at least 15 Turkish soldiers in the past two weeks, and says the Kurdish separatists enjoy freedom of movement in northern Iraq.

Baghdad has called for "urgent negotiations" over Turkey's threat and has dispatched Iraqi Vice-President Tareq Hashemi to Ankara for talks with Turkish leaders.

Iraq alarmed

Mr Saleh warned that any cross-border operation could have destabilising effects.

"Any unilateral action by the Turkish military in violation of Iraqi border will be a terrible precedent for everybody," he said in the BBC interview.

"If Turkey as a neighbour of Iraq allows itself the right to intervene militarily in Iraq, what is there to prevent other neighbours from intervening?"

Meanwhile, the head of the UN refugee agency said he was deeply concerned that the Turkish action could lead to big displacements of people.

UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres said the "relatively stable" area had until now acted as a haven for Iraqis displaced from other parts of the country.

Mr Erdogan's AK Party, which has a parliamentary majority, is expected to vote in favour of the motion on Wednesday.

If passed, the vote will authorise cross-border operations for one year with the government deciding on the timing, scope and frequency of any incursions.

The Turkish province of Sirnak is at the heart of the 23-year-old conflict between the military and Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrillas.

Turkey hopes it will not be forced to resort to military action, even if its motion gained approval in parliament, Mr Erdogan said on Tuesday.

"I sincerely wish that this motion will never be applied," he said in televised comments.

"Passage of this motion does not mean an immediate incursion will follow."

Mr Erdogan called on Iraq's government and the regional administration in the country's north to crack down on the rebels, saying they should "build a thick wall between themselves and terrorist organisations".

He added that any military operation would respect Iraq's territorial integrity and only target the rebels.

Kurdish protests

Jamal Abdallah, a spokesman for the government of Iraqi Kurdistan, told the BBC there was no co-operation with the PKK.

"We have not helped the PKK and we are not helping it," he said.

"Their bases are not under the control of the Kurdistan regional authorities."

Iraq signed a counter-terrorism pact with Turkey last month, but opposes any military incursion into its territory.

The US has also warned Ankara against ordering any incursions into Iraq.

Putin in Iran for landmark visit

Russian President Vladimir Putin has met his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during the first visit to Tehran by a Kremlin leader since 1943.

Earlier, the two presidents attended a summit of heads of countries in the Caspian Sea area.

Iran's nuclear programme is topping the agenda, with the BBC's Jon Leyne in Tehran saying Iran is seeking Russian help in fending off new UN sanctions.

The visit went ahead despite Kremlin warnings of an assassination threat.

The alleged plot to kill the Russian president prompted Mr Putin's staff to cast doubt on the trip, only for the president to announce that he was not deterred.

The Iranian government played down the threat.

Iran's refusal to end uranium enrichment has led to the US and other Western countries pressing for a new round of UN sanctions.

Washington is convinced that Tehran is pursuing nuclear weapons - a charge Iran denies - and has refused to rule out the use of force to resolve the issue.

At the meeting of the five states bordering the Caspian Sea - Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan - the countries' leaders signed a declaration agreeing to never allow their territory to be used for an attack on another littoral state.

"The parties emphasise that in no circumstances will they allow their territory to be used by a third country to commit aggression or other military action against one of the parties," AFP news agency quoted the text as saying.

Mr Putin used the meeting to warn against any military attack on Iran and to support its right to nuclear energy.

He told a press conference after the meeting that the five countries had "expressed the idea that peaceful nuclear activities must be allowed".

"Russia is the only country helping Iran to construct a nuclear power station for peaceful ends," he added, in reference to Iran's still unfinished first nuclear energy plant in Bushehr.

As well as meeting President Ahmadinejad, Mr Putin will hold talks with Iran's powerful spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Building plan

Our correspondent in Tehran says that the talks are crucial for the Iranians. Until now Moscow has been blocking any new UN sanctions, saying it wants to enable the UN's nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, to work with Iran on clearing up outstanding issues.

As well as wanting to secure diplomatic help in preventing sanctions, Iran also wants to ensure continued Russian technical assistance.

The government hopes Mr Putin will confirm that Moscow will complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor being built by Russian engineers.

The programme has been dogged by delays, with Moscow saying Tehran is behind with its payments and Iran accusing Russia of dragging its feet for political reasons, our correspondent says.

It is not clear quite how much support Mr Putin is prepared to give Iran in its showdown with the West.

Mr Putin will certainly be calling for more flexibility from the Iranian government over the nuclear issue and no-one should forget the deep legacy of suspicion that exists between Russia and Iran, our correspondent says.

Moscow has called for a peaceful resolution of the dispute, urging the international community to show patience.

"It is futile to frighten Iran and its people - they are not scared," Mr Putin said before the visit.

Suicide bomb threat

Mr Putin travelled to Tehran from Germany where he met Chancellor Angela Merkel for talks somewhat overshadowed by the alleged assassination plot.

Russian media had quoted unnamed security sources as saying suicide bombers and kidnappers were plotting to kill Mr Putin in Tehran.

Mr Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the BBC that such reports were "very serious".

But the Russian president dismissed the claims, telling reporters: "Of course I am going to Iran.

"If I listened to what the security services said, I would never leave my home."