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Cricket – Compton plays down his achievement

Nick Compton does not believe his place in the England team is secure, even after he scored centuries in the first two Tests against New Zealand.

The 29-year-old’s place in the Test side against the Black Caps was under threat after he failed to make a big score, during last year’s series in India. However, he was picked to open the batting alongside Alastair Cook for the first Test against New Zealand and scored his maiden Test century, before adding another ton in the second Test in Wellington.

Compton, 9/2 with bet365 to be England’s top batsman in the first innings of the third Test in Auckland, which the tourists are 8/13 to win, said: “I’ve done well, but do I feel established? No, I still feel a long way off. “I think it’s great to be a part of this team and contributing but it’s still early days. It’s my second series.”

Soccer – Bale backed to rise above negative tactics

Wales boss Chris Coleman believes Gareth Bale will rise above any provocation, if he is deemed fit enough to play in Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Scotland.

Bale has joined up with the Wales squad as they prepare for the games against Gordon Strachan’s men and Croatia, even though he suffered an ankle knock during Spurs’ surprise 1-0 defeat at home to Fulham on Sunday. The north Londoners 1/1 with bet365 to finish in the top four this season, will insist Bale is not used against Scotland if there is the slightest risk it could rule him out of the all-important Premier League run-in.

Bale’s superb form this season has seen him come in for more physical attention from a host of defences. But Coleman insists: “When he plays for Spurs or Wales there is an element of people kicking him. It’s one way of trying to slow him down. He’s under no illusions about that. “The more he gets kicked and thrown about, the more determined he is to stick the ball in the net.” Wales are 20/1 to beat Scotland 2-0.

Soccer – Owen opts to call it a day

Former England striker Michael Owen has confirmed that he will retire from football at the end of the season.

The 33-year-old, who scored 40 goals in his 89 appearances for his country, is currently with Stoke City, but has only featured in seven matches for the Potters this season. Owen made his name at the 1998 World Cup when he scored a brilliant solo goal for England, against Argentina when aged just 18.

He has scored 220 goals for his five clubs Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle United, Manchester United and Stoke; plus was named European Footballer of the Year in 2001. However, the second half of his career has been blighted by injuries and he has struggled to capture his best form since leaving Liverpool, where he scored 158 goals in 297 games.

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