Sporting Life's livewire wraps up all the latest breaking football news, gossip and team news.
Today's key content
- Paper Talk: Double trouble
- WATCH: Spurs edge City in historic clash
- Champions League: Epic encounters
- Europa League betting preview
- OUT NOW: Championship Podcast
- Inside the Premier League title race
- QUIZ: Football Stadiums
- Insiders offer: 50% off York tickets!
Latest Champions League odds (via Sky Bet)
At this time of year we get hung up on battles for this, that and the other, but are there sides in the Premier League who don't want football, even sides in the Championship who don't want promotion?
Probably not is the answer to the latter question, but Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers is by no means hung up on qualifying for the Europa League - which has ruined many a domestic campaign in the past.
"There's an argument for and against it," said Rodgers.
"It could come too early for us, especially when we're trying to create something, but it's always difficult to turn it down if the opportunity is there.
"At the moment it looks like no one wants it, we lost on Friday and all the other teams around us lost as well.
"But our job is to finish the season as well as we possibly can and if that takes us to seventh then great, we'll embrace whatever the challenges are for next season whether we're in Europe or not."
SURPRISE RETURN FOR KANE?
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has refused to rule out the possibility of Harry Kane playing again this season.
Kane suffered a significant ankle ligament injury against Manchester City last week, similar to the one which kept him out for six weeks earlier this year, but the club confirmed on Thursday that he has "commenced rehabilitation".
"Still we cannot say nothing," the Spurs boss said. "We are going to assess him day-by-day, we'll see.
"We're not optimistic but you know Harry Kane and with Harry Kane all is possible.
"We're not going to say he won't play again or not, we are going to assess him day-by-day."
Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez is hoping defender Florian Lejeune will bounce back quickly once again after undergoing surgery to repair his left knee.
The 59-year-old Spaniard said: "He had the operation. I was talking with the doctor and everything has gone well, as we were expecting.
"And now the timescale... we think that within a couple of months, we will see how he is progressing, like we did the last time, and then we will see how long it will take.
"But in this case, we have to give him time and see how everything is going on."
LIVERPOOL'S MESSI PLAN
Virgil Van Dijk says Liverpool need a collective effort to stop Lionel Messi in their Champions League showdown with Barcelona.
"It's going to be very hard (to stop Messi)," Van Dijk told the club's official website.
"I think he's the best player in the world but we'll see. It's going to be a great match-up for all of us.
"It's about doing it all together, it's never one-v-one, it's never just me against a particular striker.
"It's always us against everyone and I think that's the only way we can defend well."
WHO NEXT FOR SCOTLAND?
After Alex McLeish's sacking, who might be next for Scotland?
Click here for the latest reaction including odds which confirm that one David Moyes is very much in the conversation.
BREAKING: MCLEISH SACKED
Alex McLeish's second spell as Scotland manager is over.
The Scottish Football Association announced McLeish would be leaving his role "with immediate effect" after board members gathered for a meeting at Hampden on Thursday morning.
SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell said in a statement: "The decision to part company was not an easy one, especially given Alex's status as a Scotland Hall of Fame member, earning 77 international caps, having played in three World Cups and taken charge of the national team for two spells.
"It was only taken after full consideration by the board and after an honest and respectful conversation between myself and Alex earlier in the week.
"Ultimately, the performances and results as a whole in the past year - and, in particular, the manner of the defeat in Kazakhstan - did not indicate the progress expected with a squad we believe to be capable of achieving more."
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE CLASSICS
On which note, here are some more Champions League classics involving English clubs because why not?
'FROM HELL TO HEAVEN'
It sounds like an episode of Only Fools and Horses, but is in fact Toby Alderweireld's description of his emotions during that thrilling end to a pulsating Champions League quarter-final at the Etihad.
"It was from hell to heaven," said Spurs defender Alderweireld. "I was thinking we can't concede in that moment, we knew what we had thrown (away).
"I think we were a little bit angry in that moment but then we saw the ref going back saying, 'Offside'.
"It was unbelievable. I couldn't believe it on the pitch. For the neutral fans it was an unbelievable night."
BARTON ISSUES DENIAL
Fleetwood manager Joey Barton says he "emphatically" denies all allegations made against him following Saturday's defeat at Barnsley.
Barnsley striker Cauley Woodrow tweeted that Barton allegedly confronted Reds manager Daniel Stendel after the game.
Police investigating an incident in the tunnel at Oakwell have bailed a man who was arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated offences.
"With regards to the alleged incident on Saturday following our game against Barnsley, I emphatically deny all the allegations made," Barton posted on Twitter.
"Given this matter has not been formally closed, it would be inappropriate for me to make any further comment."
Former Scotland boss Craig Levein insists the Scottish Football Association will be making a mistake if they axe Alex McLeish today.
The national team's current manager is set to learn his fate, with the Hampden board meeting to thrash out a decision on whether to sack him in the wake of last month's humiliating 3-0 defeat to Kazakhstan.
But Hearts boss Levein - who had a three year stint in charge of the Scots after being appointed in 2009 - said: "Listen I just think it's a mistake. I think Alex deserves a chance to carry on.
"That's my personal opinion and we'll see. I hope he stays on."
👕 ARSENAL TEAM NEWS: TORREIRA FIT ENOUGH TO TRAVEL
Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira has travelled with the squad for Thursday's Europa League quarter-final second leg at Napoli.
The Uruguay international came off at half-time in Monday's Premier League win over Watford with a tight groin but is in contention to start in the San Paolo Stadium.
Loanee Denis Suarez (groin) has stayed behind in London while long-term absentees Danny Welbeck (ankle), Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin (both knee) are still missing.
Leno, Cech, Maitland-Niles, Lichtsteiner, Jenkinson, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Torreira, Elneny, Iwobi, Mkhitaryan, Ramsey, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette, Nketiah.
🏆 EUROPA LEAGUE TIPS
Paul Higham has a best bet for all four Europa League quarter-finals on Thursday night as Arsenal and Chelsea look to make the last four.
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