Five days to the weekend

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We count down the best sporting action this week


SCOTLAND’S footballers gather at Mar Hall today ahead of Friday night’s clash with Wales, hoping that the return of Steven and Darren Fletcher as well as Scott Brown to the squad can add some desperately needed impetus to their already slim World Cup qualifying hopes. In tennis, Andy Murray will be back in action this week, with the Scot due to play his first match in the Shanghai Rolex Masters on Wednesday. Dublin hosts the World Grand Prix of darts, which gets under way today.


WITH the latest batch of World Cup qualifiers set to take centre stage later this week for the home nations, there are slim pickings on the domestic football front. A host of second-round ties in the northern and southern sections of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy include Portsmouth v Wycombe and York v Coventry. There’s a decent day’s racing in store, with meetings scheduled at Brighton, Catterick, Leicester, Longchamp and Wolverhampton.


THIS year’s two-day Leaders in Football summit begins in London, with a host of the most influential figures in the world game gathering to shsre knowledge and ideas. Andy Murray is due to open his Shanghai Masters campaign against either Bernard Tomic of Australia or Germany’s Florian Mayer. Cycling’s four-day Tour of Beijing gets under way, while there are race meetings at Kempton, Ludlow, Nottingham and Towcester.


CRAIG Levein and his Scotland squad are due to fly south for Friday’s crucial World Cup qualifier in Wales after a final training session at Mar Hall. There’s racing at Ayr as well as Exeter, Kempton and Worcester, while in golf the Open in California and the Portugal Masters at Vilamoura and the LPGA Sime Darby in Kuala Lumpur tee off. In rugby union there’s an Amlin Challenge Cup Pool One clash between Mont de Marsan and Gloucester.


A PACKED evening of World Cup qualifiers features Scotland’s must-win clash with an equally desperate Wales in Group A along with Macedonia v Croatia and Serbia v Belgium. In Group H, England will be supremely confident of racking up another three points at home to San Marino in Group H, while the Republic of Ireland face an altogether tougher test against Germany in Group C. The European U21 Championship qualifying play-off first legs include England v Serbia, while in rugby union there’s Heineken Cup action featuring Ospreys v Treviso and Ulster v Castres and in the Scottish Premiership Boroughmuir host Heriot’s. There’s racing scheduled for Bath, Carlisle, Newton Abbot and Wolverhampton.