The Independent

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England name Smith at fly-half as captain Farrell dropped

Marcus Smith has been entrusted with the fly-half duties for England’s Guinness Six Nations clash with France after Steve Borthwick made the bombshell decision to drop captain Owen Farrell. Farrell has been demoted to the bench for the first time since 2015 for tomorrow’s Twickenham showdown with the Grand Slam champions.

Ellis Genge is named captain for the first time in place of Farrell but there are no further changes to the starting XV that toppled Wales in round three. “The players selected to face our visitors

are again a reflection of what I see to be the right balance of personnel for the challenge we face in this game,” England head coach Borthwick said. “Marcus Smith starts at fly-half and Dave Ribbans returns. Congratula­tions to Ellis Genge who will captain the side for the first time.”

Meanwhile, wing Louis Rees-Zammit has been dropped and Rio Dyer recalled by Wales for their match against Italy tomorrow at the Stadio Olimpico. Scrumhalf Rhys Webb will also make his first test start since October 2020 among six changes to the Wales side that lost to England 20-10 two weeks ago in Cardiff. Liam Williams and forwards Jac Morgan, Dafydd Jenkins and Wyn Jones have been brought in. Scotland face Ireland at Murrayfiel­d on Sunday. PA

Real Madrid plot summer move for Haaland

An audacious move is being considered by Real Madrid for Manchester City star striker Erling Haaland this summer, as part of a plan to bring in a new generation of young stars that also includes Jude Bellingham. The Champions League holders believe they are favourites to sign the England and Borussia Dortmund midfielder after a series of meetings with his team. They are also looking at Haaland as a replacemen­t for 35-yearold Karim Benzema.

Kylian Mbappe was previously top of the club’s transfer wishlist but his decision to stay at Paris Saint-Germain last summer sparked tension between the player and club, and Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is interested in looking elsewhere ahead of a summer of change at the Bernabeu. It is thought that manager Carlo Ancelotti could leave Real in the summer, and the transition could be completed with a major attacking signing to go with Bellingham.

Bangladesh beat England for first time in T20

Najmul Hossain’s 30-ball 51 led Bangladesh’s first defeat of world champion England by six wickets with two overs to spare

in their Twenty20 yesterday. Najmul batted from the fourth over to the 13th, and captain Shakib Al Hasan completed the victory with the winning boundary through deep backward point in an unbeaten 34 off 24. Bangladesh reached 158-4 after England were restricted to 156-6 in the first of three T20s. “I was not too worried about losing wickets,” Najmul said. Shakib took over steering the side on a slow pitch and managed it serenely in Bangladesh’s first T20 win over England. “The way we approached the game was fantastic; under the pump in the first 10 overs but no one panicked,” Shakib said.

Made to bat first, skipper Jos Buttler and Phil Salt gave England an ominous start. Buttler struck 67 off 42 with four fours and as many sixes while Salt hit 38. They formed an 80-run partnershi­p before left-arm spinner Nasum Ahmed made the breakthrou­gh by removing Salt. Buttler survived on 19 and was dismissed amid a collapse of four wickets for 12 runs. England took just 26 runs from the last powerplay. “We were in a position to kick on but were 20 (runs) short,” Buttler said. “Low bounce and a little slow but (the pitch) stayed consistent throughout the game. Bangladesh took the game on and put us under pressure.”

Hasan Mahmud led with 2-26 from his four overs. The second T20 is on Sunday in Dhaka. AP

Antonio double helps West Ham overcome Cypriot team

Michail Antonio scored twice as West Ham put their domestic strife behind them with a 2-0 victory over AEK Larnaca in the Europa Conference League. The Hammers might be toiling in the Premier League but they are making short work of Europe’s third-tier competitio­n after seven wins from seven matches.

David Moyes’s side left wintry London to take in warmer climes on the back of a sorry 4-0 defeat at Brighton, which prompted the away fans to turn on the under-pressure manager. But, after a day of sunshine and beer, the travelling support were in a far less mutinous mood on the Cyprus coast.

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 ?? (left) (PA) ?? Marcus Smith( right) will start for England against France in place of Owen Farrell
(left) (PA) Marcus Smith( right) will start for England against France in place of Owen Farrell

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