Clough cools play-off hopes

Burton Albion manager Nigel Clough doubts whether his side can sneak into the League One play-offs even after their 5-2 win over Accrington Stanley.

The Brewers trailed 2-0 in the first half but Scott Fraser halved the deficit before the break and Clough's side scored four goals in the second half.

The result leaves Burton, who reached the League Cup semi-finals earlier in the campaign and were relegated from the Championship last term, five points off a play-off spot. They are 100/1 to be promoted this season.

Clough said after his team's superb comeback victory: "I thought we played well in the first 35 minutes and didn't deserve to be 2-0 down – the reason we were was two mistakes.

"The goal we scored just before half time was then massively important but we had 10 to 12 moves like that and hadn't got a shot off. In the second half we finished them off, that was the difference.

"It might just be a bit too late [to get into the play-offs]. But we will try and win as many games as we can and see where that takes us.

"We really should be in the high 50s in terms of points at this stage but we'll keep going and four out of the last seven are against top-six sides so there is a lot to look forward to."

McCarthy demands big improvement

Mick McCarthy thinks Georgia will be confident of beating a Republic of Ireland side that laboured to a 1-0 win against Gibraltar on Saturday.

A Jeff Hendrick goal proved decisive as Ireland at least made a winning start to their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign at Victoria Stadium.

But Ireland created little else in a disappointing performance in what was McCarthy's first game in his second spell in charge.

"I pretty much hated every minute of that," he said afterwards.

"I knew what it would be like. We were never going to complain about the pitch. The wind was blowing a gale. We didn't play particularly well. We had chances, one or two in the first half. Darren Randolph was probably man of the match.

"I was asked earlier on about gaining momentum and I can only gain momentum by winning games. I would have taken 1-0. I wanted to score more and play better but we have three points."

McCarthy's team play Georgia, who lost 2-0 to Switzerland in their first qualifier, at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday.

He added: "It is going to be a completely different game against a completely different team. Georgia lost and they will be looking to get some momentum against us. They will be watching that and think we are hopeless but we will play better than that."

Republic of Ireland are 1/2 to beat Georgia and 4/1 to win the match 1-0.

Jackett targets top-two spot

Portsmouth boss Kenny Jackett is refusing to look too far ahead but is adamant that his side can still clinch an automatic promotion spot.

Pompey's recent victory against Scunthorpe United closed the gap on second-placed Barnsley to just four points and they are 7/5 to beat Shrewsbury Town on Saturday. The Shrews are 5/1 to be relegated from League One while Portsmouth are 10/1 to finish in the top two.

Jackett said: "As far as you can, you have to prepare for one game at a time. All of your energy has to be focused on the next one.

"But when you look at the big picture, it does change slightly because we're going to need a high number of points from the 24 that are still available. We've crept into the 70s now in terms of points and know that, if we want to go up, we'll need to be around 90.

"We're four and nine points respectively off the sides that are currently second and first, so we have to keep pushing and know it's still possible."

Shrewsbury reached the League One play-offs last season but have struggled this term and are in danger of sliding into the fourth tier of English football.

Jackett added: "The bottom half of the season is so tight – it's unbelievable. There are a number of teams that will need points on the board sooner rather than later. We understand Shrewsbury will be fighting for their lives, but have to show our quality and it's an opportunity for us to keep pushing for those promotion places."

Depay to keep his place

Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman has made it clear that Memphis Depay will be in his starting line-up for Sunday's Euro 2020 qualifier against Germany.

The Lyon striker, who endured a difficult spell with Manchester United earlier in his career, scored twice on Thursday and produced a scintillating individual display as the Dutch eased to a 4-0 win against Belarus.

Depay has struggled to hold down a regular place in the Lyon team this season but has been hailed by former Everton boss Koeman.

He said of 25-year-old Depay: "A wonderful player. You saw what he is capable of, even if he is playing less at his club.

"Memphis is a very important pillar for us and he showed that. The ideal is to have a settled starting line-up to be able to work with. You see that with France, how infrequently they change their team."

Depay, who scored in the first minute against Belarus for a Netherlands side that have enjoyed a recent upturn in form after missing out on Euro 2016 and World Cup 2018, said: "It was a great start and, if you begin like that, it makes the rest of the evening easier.

"We said that to each other before we went out that we wanted to push hard for a goal in the opening 10 minutes. But you've also got to have a little luck.

"We have a good squad and a good coaching staff. We've got to ensure we stick together as a team and that everyone buys into our ambitions."

Netherlands, 3/1 to win this summer's Nations League, can be backed at 7/5 to beat Germany on Sunday.

Rashford sits out England training

Marcus Rashford may miss Friday's Euro 2020 qualifier between England and Czech Republic after being forced to sit out training on Thursday.

The Manchester United striker is struggling with an ankle injury.

England's official Twitter account posted: "21 players are taking part in today's session, with Marcus Rashford working separately to the main group."

England boss Gareth Southgate has seen five players withdraw from his squad for the Group A double-header against the Czechs and Montenegro.

Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold pulled out because of a back complaint on Wednesday after Fabian Delph, John Stones, Luke Shaw and Ruben Loftus-Cheek were ruled out earlier in the week.

Because of the withdrawals, Southgate has already added Callum Hudson-Odoi and James Ward-Prowse to his squad.

Meanwhile, Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton is thrilled to be back in the England set-up after injury ruled out him out of World Cup 2018.

He said: "You have certainly got to appreciate it. I've found that myself coming back after being out for so long. To get back in the [Burnley] team and be back here, it's sort of a nice end to a difficult journey, really.

"It was tough. You get injured. It was a longer-term injury, I probably didn't know the details of it at the time and didn't realise the scale of it, to be honest.

"The first part of it is OK, you get your rehabilitation in. Towards the end when your mind thinks that you're ready but physically you're not quite there, that can be a touch frustrating. It's difficult but you put the work in, the graft, the opportunity comes and thankfully I'm back here today."

England, 7/1 to win Euro 2020, are 8/1 to beat Czech Republic from behind on Friday while Southgate's team are available at 4/7 to keep a clean sheet in the match.

Ferguson eyes late push

Darren Ferguson does not think it is impossible for Peterborough United to secure promotion to the Championship this season.

Posh have handed Ferguson, who is in his third spell as manager at London Road, a three-year deal.

The former Doncaster Rovers manager replaced Steve Evans in January and was initially set to stay with the club until the end of the current campaign.

Peterborough are currently in eighth in the League One table and 33/1 to be promoted this season, while Doncaster are 4/1 to go up.

Ferguson said: "Things have changed since I was last here, like the new owners working alongside the chairman, who I know very well and we have an excellent relationship.

"The potential of getting into the Championship is always there, that is always the most appealing thing for me. I need to be aiming to get in the Championship and stay there.

"The club have got fantastic potential, the best position it has been in since the last time I left. We want to build a squad and group of players who tie in with that, fairly young, lots of energy, drive and ambition which matches ours."

Peterborough are 10/11 to beat relegation-threatened Southend United in their next match on Saturday.

"We've got eight games left of this season to try and get into the Championship – that is not dead and buried yet," Ferguson added. "I'm raring to go, as is (assistant manager) Gavin (Strachan), and we will give it our best."

Bowyer seeks change of luck

Bradford City manager Gary Bowyer is desperate for his struggling team to create more chances as they attempt to avoid relegation from League One.

The Bantams have endured a terrible campaign and are currently rooted to the foot of the table and available at 1/5 to be relegated.

After parting company with Simon Grayson at the end of last season, City began the 2018/19 campaign with Michael Collins in charge.

He was sacked in September and succeeded by David Hopkin, who resigned five months later.

Former Blackburn Rovers and Blackpool boss Bowyer was appointed manager at Valley Parade earlier this month and handed the task of lifting Bradford out of the relegation zone. They can be backed at 17/10 to beat Blackpool on Saturday.

Bowyer said: "We've got to look forward to Saturday now. Our debrief on Monday was focused on what we could do better ourselves. We've got to concentrate on what we can control, the energy levels, training and continuing on to the next game.

"We need to create more. We had two or three good passages of play [in the 1-0 defeat at Oxford] and then the key moment which is what we hung in the game for.

"That's how quickly things can change – and it can change back just as quickly. That's what we've been telling the boys."

Scotland hopeful on Robertson

Scotland captain Andy Robertson is keen to feature in Thursday's Euro 2020 qualifier against Kazakhstan even though he has had to endure dental surgery.

The Liverpool left-back missed the flight to Kazakhstan after being told to stay behind to get an abscess treated.

It had been thought that the 25-year-old would miss Thursday's match but would have a chance to play against San Marino on Sunday.

However, assistant coach Peter Grant explained: "The way he is, he is still desperate to play and still trying to get himself back out here as well. That's the way Andy Robertson is, that's why the manager selected him to be his captain, because he is determined to play for his country.

"He had no choice because he couldn't fly with it. The swelling and the pressure in the air was going to be a problem for him. He went straight from the plane to the hospital and he was hoping he was still going to fly, that's why we held the plane up a bit. Obviously they wanted him to get an operation done.

"I would hope he would join up for here. He's going to see about his tooth problem and we will take it from there."

If Robertson is not able to play on Thursday, Kieran Tierney will take the former Hull City star's place.

Grant added: "The beauty is we have two fantastic players. You are never always going to have everyone fit. But look at the quality you have to come in if he (Tierney) is fully fit."

Scotland are 4/5 to beat Kazakhstan and 8/1 to edge the Euro 2020 qualifier 2-1.

Guardiola: We need everybody

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola hopes he does not lose any of his players to injury during this month's international break.

City, who have already won the EFL Cup this term, are currently second in the Premier League table, while they have reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup and last eight of the Champions League.

Guardiola's team are scheduled to play eight fixtures in 29 days after the international break and the City boss wants all of his squad members to play their part in the last two months of the campaign.

"I pray that they come back fit," he said. "They have to go to their national teams… enjoy and play for their country, but I hope they can come back fit like they are now.

"I just want them fit and here… With the fixtures we have in April we need everybody, it's crazy."

Meanwhile, Guardiola said of his injured stars: "Everybody is going to play and Kevin (De Bruyne), Fernandinho, John (Stones), Benjamin (Mendy) – they are all going to be back soon and we need them. Even if some play 10 or 15 minutes here and there.

"We need everybody because we have got to this stage where we are still in with a chance of winning three more trophies because of everybody. Not just 11 players, but everyone."

City's next game is at Fulham on 30th March and they can be backed at 8/1 to win 2-0 at Craven Cottage. They are 10/1 to win the quadruple of Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League and EFL Cup this season.

Ward-Prowse added to squad

Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse has been called up to the England squad for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Czech Republic and Montenegro.

The 24-year-old has only won one cap for his country when he came on as a late substitute in the 1-0 friendly international defeat to Germany in March 2017.

England boss Gareth Southgate has added Ward-Prowse to his squad as Manchester City duo John Stones and Fabian Delph, as well as Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek, have withdrawn because of injury.

Free-kick specialist Ward-Prowse has scored six goals in his last nine Premier League appearances, including three in the last three against Fulham, Manchester United and Tottenham.

Southgate surprised many people when he did not include the Saints star in his initial squad, although he said at the time: "We love Prowsey. I have been accused of being the father of Prowsey over the years.

"This most recent spell is his best since we capped him before. He is a world-class deliverer of set-plays but he has only recently got back into the team at Southampton.

"Our midfield is a difficult balance. Four months on from our last game you could say that [Fabian] Delph isn't playing for Manchester City but he was our best player against Croatia."

England, 7/1 to win Euro 2020, can be backed at 1/3 to beat the Czech Republic on Friday while Ward-Prowse is 8/1 to be the first goalscorer.

Revised England squad for this month's games:

Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ross Barkley (Chelsea), Jack Butland (Stoke City), Ben Chilwell (Leicester City), Dele (Tottenham), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Michael Keane (Everton), Harry Maguire (Leicester City), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Declan Rice (West Ham United), Danny Rose (Tottenham), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), James Tarkowski (Burnley), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton), Callum Wilson (Bournemouth).