Big Sam confirms Rat talks
Brighton have apologised to Crystal Palace for the "vandalism" in their dressing room prior to last week's Championship play-off semi-final at the Amex Stadium.
Excrement was found on the floor of the Eagles' dressing room ahead of the second-leg clash between the fierce derby rivals last Monday.
In an email sent to season-ticket holders this evening, Brighton chief executive Paul Barber confirmed the club had formally apologised to Palace and vowed to tighten security at the ground.
However, Barber said he could not comment on the suspension of manager Gus Poyet, assistant Mauricio Taricco and first-team coach Charlie Oatway - for matters unrelated to the dressing-room incident - following the Seagulls' 2-0 defeat.
"It's clearly been a challenging week for our club," wrote Barber.
"Defeat at home to our biggest rivals in a play-off semi-final; the suspension from work and pending investigation of three members of our staff; and the revelation of an unsavoury incident that took place in our visitors' dressing room last Monday.
"These events have led to some unwelcome headlines that we all would have preferred not to have been reading during the last week. Understandably, many supporters have asked me, both in person and in writing, about recent events - and, in particular, how and why they have happened. At this point, I'm unable to give you answers to all the questions you may have.
"What I can say to you is that every football club faces a variety of challenges at different points in its history. We are no exception and I can assure you that we will address each of these challenges as you would expect and want us to, namely, professionally and with as much as dignity as possible.
"We apologised to Crystal Palace as soon as the vandalism in their dressing room was discovered, and again more formally a few days after the match. As a result of what happened, please rest assured we have reviewed our internal procedures to guard against this ever happening again.
"On other matters, you will appreciate that I'm unable to comment further at this time."
Cleverley is a major doubt for the two friendlies after picking up a calf problem during United's stunning 5-5 draw with West Brom on Sunday.
Rodwell has already been called-up in case Cleverley is forced out of the squad and Hodgson admits it would be a low to lose the United man who has established himself as a regular in the England side under Hodgson.
"Tom Cleverley we are waiting on scans and will hopefully know more tomorrow," Hodgson told Sky Sports News. "If the scans show any damage to his calf muscle then obviously we will miss him and that's a blow for us."
Hodgson insists he is treating the two games against Republic of Ireland and Brazil seriously as he feels they are ideal preparation for their World Cup qualifiers later this year.
"Well all games are important when you play for England and I think they are important for me of course as preparation for more important games ahead - the qualifiers.
"But I think they are very important for players as well because every time you put on an England shirt the expectations are great, people want to see good performances from you and you are facing stiff competition from other players so I think all games we play are very important."
England face Giovanni Trapattoni's side at Wembley on 29 May and then World Cup hosts Brazil in Rio on 2 June.
Goalkeepers: Ben Foster, Joe Hart, Alex McCarthy.
Defenders: Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Phil Jagielka, Glen Johnson, Phil Jones, Joleon Lescott, Kyle Walker.
Midfielders: Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Frank Lampard, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Jack Rodwell.
Forwards: Andy Carroll, Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck.
Toure is out of contract at City this summer and it is unlikely he will be offered a new deal to extend his stay at the Etihad Stadium.
The news has alerted a host of clubs across Europe to Toure's availability on a free transfer this summer.
Sky Sports claim that Liverpool are ready to offer Toure the chance to stay in the Premier League with Brendan Rodgers in the market for defensive reinforcements.
Rodgers is losing Jamie Carragher to retirement, while there has been speculation over the futures of Martin Skrtel and Sebastian Coates.
Toure would help fill the void left by Carragher and provide the necessary experience to what is a youthful side at Anfield.
The 32-year-old has made 17 appearances in all competitions for City this season with the centre-back seeing his first-team chances limited by the form of Matija Nastasic alongside captain Vincent Kompany.
Toure has a wealth of Premier League experience having made over 400 appearances during his time in England and has won the Premier League title with both City and Arsenal.
Jon Obika and Alex Pritchard were on target to send Spurs into the interval with a 2-0 lead.
But Marnick Vermijl reduced the deficit and a Larnell Cole brace saw the United youngsters emulate the first team to claim the title.
Tottenham made the brighter start of the two sides and former Norwich loanee Harry Kane hit the post with an effort from outside the box after 22 minutes.
And they took the lead nine minutes later as Pritchard won the ball in the air and found Obika, who tapped in from close range.
Three minutes before the break it was 2-0 as the pair combined again and this time Obika was the provider. The 22-year-old intercepted the ball in the middle of the park and found Pritchard who hit an unstoppable low shot across Ben Amos.
United desperately needed a goal and they got one in the 59th minute as a through-ball cut apart the Spurs back four and the overlapping Vermijl fired home a low shot.
There was then a moment of controversy as Tottenham goalkeeper Jordan Archer brought down Cole in the box but the referee booked the young striker for diving.
Cole did not let that distract him, however, and soon after he had United level.
Jesse Lingard had the ball in the penalty area and when he was tackled the ricochet fell to Cole, who easily finished from 12 yards.
And the drama did not stop there as substitute Tom Lawrence found Cole in some space in the area with two minutes remaining and the 20-year-old slotted home to seal the win.
Mourinho's expected move back to Chelsea looks even more likely after Real Madrid confirmed he will leave the Bernabeu at the end of the season.
Allardyce locked horns with Mourinho during his last spell at Stamford Bridge and admits he would look forward to more touchline battles with his old managerial foe.
"I think it will be great to have him back," Allardyce told Sky Sports News. "He had a very good spell last time. I know it didn't finish so well in the end at Chelsea with Roman Abramovich.
"Obviously they have repaired the damage and he comes back to apply his talents in the Premier League. It sounds like he is looking forward to coming back to England.
"We'll be glad to see him and obviously pit our wits against him as well."
Mourinho failed to land any silverware during his last season in charge with Real Madrid, but he guided the club to the La Liga title in the previous campaign and secured the Champions League title during his spell at Inter Milan.
Allardyce does not think the 'Special One' has lost any of his talents and expects him to be a more dangerous adversary if he does take charge of the Blues again.
"I suppose it depends on whether he can recapture what he did when he first moved to Chelsea," he said.
"I think, looking at his experience since those days, he should be better than what he was when he left. I think that his spells in Italy and Spain, he will have matured and learnt a lot from that time.
"I suppose when he comes back to Chelsea, he'll use that experience and probably try to be better than when he left."
Rat is available on a free transfer after seeing out his contract at Shakhtar Donetsk and Allardyce has targeted the 31-year-old to help fill the club's problematic left-back spot.
Talks are thought to be at an advanced stage and Allardyce is hopeful of making Rat his first signing of the summer.
"I think at the moment it is talking terms and conditions and if we get through that then hopefully it's a chance of a medical and then see where we go from there," Allardyce told Sky Sports News.
Allardyce believes Rat will prove a valuable addition to his squad next season.
"He has played Champions League this year, if everything goes to plan we get a player that has played at the highest level for his country and for Shaktar Donetsk at the moment," added Allardyce.
"His experience and talents from abroad bringing them into the Premier League would be a great asset for us if we can sort it out."