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Joe Root praises Ben Stokes for showing great ‘courage and bravery’ over mental health struggles

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Joe Root has paid tribute to England captain Ben Stokes for the ‘great courage and bravery’ he demonstrated by continuing to speak out about his mental health.

Stokes took an indefinite break from cricket last summer to focus on his wellbeing, following the loss of his father to cancer the previous December, having struggled with anxiety and panic attacks.

The all-rounder announced in July he would retire from the one-day format due to the “unsustainable” rigour of playing all three formats of the game, while Stokes believes the public will see a different side to him when a new documentary about him heavily features his battle with a “mental breakdown”.

The 31-year-old revealed in the documentary ‘Ben Stokes: Phoenix from the Ashes’, released on Friday, how close he came to walking away from cricket and that he was still taking anxiety medication after his return to the international arena.

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“I think it’s exactly what you come to see from Ben [Stokes] as a leader, is how honest he is,” Root said ahead of England’s second Test against South Africa this Thursday live on Sky Sports. “What he expects of everyone else are all things that he wouldn’t be asked of or willing to do himself.

“I think, like with any of your mates, you want to get around them and you want to make sure you do what you can to help. That goes within the dressing room environment and away from the game as well – you just want to do what you can to help out really.”

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Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum were aligned in their post-match analysis of last week’s innings defeat at Lord’s, insisting it was no cause to doubt the blueprint which allowed them to record four thrilling victories earlier in the summer.

Both men suggested that they would be examining if there were times the team could have played more aggressively against the Proteas and Root, who banked a rare double failure in that match, is happy to follow their lead.

“Even though the result didn’t necessarily go how we wanted it to and we didn’t play as well as we could, that doesn’t change anything,” Root added. “That’s been made very clear to the group.

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“If anything it’s an opportunity for us to come out and play with more intent. It’s just another opportunity to get back to how well we were playing in those first four Test matches.
“It’s about really committing to how we want to go about things and having full trust and belief in it. It’s a great chance to get our teeth into it this week and show people what we can do.”

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Olise’s late strike gets Palace point against United

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Michael Olise has helped Crystal Palace get a point against Manchester United in their 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park Stadium on Wednesday night.

The midfielder’s late strike in extra-time, 91′, levelled the game against United, who had controlled the lead since the 43rd minute of the first half after Bruno Fernandes’ fine finish put the Red Devils ahead just before the break.

A relentless Olise scored from a free kick with a left-footed shot to the top right corner. The equalising goal saw United’s dream of replacing defending EPL champions City in the second place on the league table, fade away, as they remain third with 39 points, having played a game more than City.

Crystal Palace remains in 12th place with 23 points.

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Atletico Madrid head coach speaks on leaving Atletico Madrid

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Atletico Madrid head coach, Diego Simeone, has insisted that nobody has personally told him to leave the club.

Rumours have persisted that Simeone, 52, could be set to end this 11-year stay at Atletico Madrid at the end of the season.

However, the Argentine has now stated that no one at the club has asked him to quit the La Liga giants.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Atletico Madrid’s Copa del Rey tie with Levante on Wednesday night, Simeone said when asked about reports suggesting he would leave the club at the end of the season: “No one has personally asked me to leave.”

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However, having already been eliminated from UEFA Champions League and sitting 13 points behind leaders Barcelona in the La Liga table, the Copa del Rey is Atletico Madrid’s last realistic opportunity for a trophy this season.

It has been a disappointing campaign for Simeone’s side, as they sit fourth in the league.

Simeone added, “The boys are enthusiastic to reverse this situation that we have experienced since the break and prior to the World Cup. It’s been a regular to a bad season. For me, there is growth after the break, hopefully, we will continue in that line.”

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EPL: Frank Lampard won’t run away – Shaun Wright-Phillips

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Former Chelsea player, Shaun Wright-Phillips has backed his former teammate, Frank Lampard to stay at Goodison Park and turn things around.

Wright-Phillips said his former team-mate does not run away from challenges such as Everton is facing now but would face them squarely

Lampard is in danger of being sacked any moment from now after yet another defeat on Friday.

Everton crashed out of the FA Cup on Friday after they were beaten 3-1 by Manchester United at Old Trafford

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Frank Lampard has now led Toffees to six defeats in their last seven matches and they have also crashed out of the Carabao Cup and are currently 18th in the Premier League.

“Frank Lampard has always been a player and a person that won’t run away from things not going well,” Wright-Phillips told the BBC.

“He is the type of person to try and solve it or try and make the situation a lot better…”

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