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Summary

  1. Belgian footballer Gregory Mertens dies
  2. Nigel Pearson apologies for ostrich rant
  3. Chelsea close in on Premier League title
  4. Andy Murray wins second-round match in Munich Open
  5. Shaun Murphy leads Barry Hawkins 6-2 at the Crucible

Live Reporting

By Caroline Chapman and Stephan Shemilt

All times stated are UK

Get involved

That's it for another Sportsday, join us again on Thursday for all the breaking news, the best of social media and a look ahead to the weekend's Premier League action.

Premier League play-off race continues

Darts

Adrian Lewis
Getty Images

Adrian Lewis and defending champion Raymond van Barneveld will hope to move closer to securing Premier League play-off places tonight.

Both men play twice in Birmingham this evening, including a meeting between the pair in the final match of week 13.

Lewis and Van Barneveld are a point behind Phil Taylor in the group table. Taylor occupies the fourth and final play-off spot and will take on world number one Michael van Gerwen tonight.

Millwall 'ethos' returns under Harris

Football

New Millwall manager Neil Harris has helped the club rediscover its identity,

according to former Lions defender Matt Lawrence.

After a short spell in caretaker charge, 37-year-old Harris was named as manager of the relegated Championship side on Wednesday - a day after their demise to League One next season was confirmed.

"Millwall fans don't always ask for winning football but they ask for pride and passion," Lawrence told BBC London. "They were unsuccessful under Ian Holloway and Steve Lomas before him. Neil has instilled the Millwall ethos."

Not always an irrelevance

American Football

Marty Moore
Getty Images

It can't do much for your self-esteem to be described as 'Mr Irrelevant' but that is the title that awaits the 256th and last pick in the NFL draft, which concludes on Saturday.

That said, it need not be an albatross. Ask Marty Moore, who became the first 'Mr Irrelevant' to win a Super Bowl ring with the New England Patriots.

He's been speaking to Sporthour on BBC World Service.

Howe wants to win Championship title

Football

Eddie Howe
Getty Images

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe says after effectively sealing a Premier League place the club would now love to

finish the job with the Championship title.

Watford hold a one-point advantage over Bournemouth, ahead of the Cherries' final game at Charlton on Saturday.

But after missing out on the title when earning promotion from Leagues Two and One, Howe now wants some silverware.

"Of course you do (want the title)," the 37-year-old told BBC Radio Solent. "That's been a frustration for us."

Price must be right for Benteke - Sherwood

Football

Aston Villa forward Christian Benteke will only be allowed to leave if he wants to go and the money is right,

manager Tim Sherwood says.

Benteke has scored 10 Premier League goals in 25 games this season and there has been speculation about his future.

"It would have to be a lot of money for anyone to take him from us," said Sherwood, who does not want to sell the in-form Belgium international. "He'd be too expensive for a great deal of clubs in the Premier League."

Farah to run in Birmingham

Athletics

Mo Farah
Getty Images

Mo Farah will race over 1500 metres at the Birmingham Grand Prix in June, organisers have announced.

The double Olympic champion over 5,000m and 10,000m will step down in distance for the Diamond League event on June 7 as he looks to hone his finishing speed ahead of the World Championships in Beijing in August.

The race will be the first time the 32-year-old has competed over 1500m since he broke the European record by clocking three minutes 28.81 seconds in Monaco two years ago.

Qatar sack boss

Football

Djamel Belmadi
Getty Images

Qatar have relieved former Manchester City and Southampton midfielder

Djamel Belmadi of his duties as national coach just over a month before the start of their joint 2018 World Cup and Asian Cup qualifying campaign.

The Qatar Football Association said: "We're currently on the look-out for a new coach. We thank Mr Belmadi for his services and co-operation. We got some very good results in his stint as coach. He was one of our finest coaches."

Wedding over Warriors for Mantellato

Rugby League

Hull KR wing Josh Mantellato, the top points scorer in Super League this season,

will miss Friday's game against Wigan Warriors because he is best man at his brother's wedding in Australia.

The 28-year-old has scored 94 points in 11 league games this season, but told the club about the wedding when he joined them.

"The player flew to Australia after Saturday's game against Catalans to take part in the ceremony and will be back in England this Sunday," said a Hull KR statement.

Redfearn wants Thompson back at Leeds

Football

Neil Redfearn is keen to stay on as head coach of Leeds next season but wants suspended assistant Steve Thompson reinstated in his role.

When Thompson was suspended without explanation earlier this month, Redfearn, 49, said he would decide on his own future at the end of the season.

Banned owner Massimo Cellino will return to office on Sunday and Redfearn, who believes the Italian has yet to decide whether or not to keep him, expects to hold talks next week.

When asked if he would ask the club to reconsider Thompson's position, Redfearn said: "Definitely. That's got to be resolved."

Simmonds to move north

Swimming

Ellie Simmonds
Getty Images

Four-time Paralympic champion Ellie Simmonds is to relocate to British Para-Swimming's National Performance Centre in Manchester to finalise her preparations for Rio 2016.

The 20-year-old from Walsall, who won her first Paralympic gold medals in Beijing aged 13, has spent the last 18 months in Loughborough after leaving Swansea.

Simmonds said: "Having spent a very productive 18 months at Loughborough with my coach Steve Bayley, we both agree that it is now time for me to move into the next phase of my preparations for the Rio Paralympics."

Durham lights installation approved

Cricket

Durham Riverside Emirates ICG
Getty Images

Floodlights are

set to be installed at Durham's Emirates ICG allowing it to stage World Cup matches in 2019.

Councillors approved six 55-metre tall floodlights which will allow the county to hold day-night international fixtures, having already hosted Test and one-day games at the venue.

Chester-le-Street is one of 10 host Test venues put up for the tournament.

"World Cup cricket will be coming to the north east," Durham chief executive David Harker told BBC Newcastle.

Blackburn's Raya signs new contract

Football

David Raya has

signed a new three-year contract with Championship side Blackburn Rovers. The 19-year-old Spanish goalkeeper made his solitary appearance for Rovers in the 3-0 win at Leeds earlier this month.

Robinson grateful for Sussex chance

Cricket

Ollie Robinson
Getty Images

Ollie Robinson has thanked Sussex for

giving him a chance to re-launch his professional career following his sacking by Yorkshire last year.

The bowler left the Tykes following "a number of unprofessional actions".

Robinson, 21, scored a century and took four wickets on his first-class debut for Sussex in their defeat by Durham.

"I am grateful to Sussex for giving me another chance. Eight months ago I thought I might not play county cricket again," he told BBC Sussex.

Mertens tributes: Premier League clubs

Football

West Bromwich Albion on Twitter: "Our thoughts are with the family & friends of Lokeren's Gregory Mertens at this very sad time. #RIPGregory"

Aston Villa on Twitter: "RIP Gregory Mertens: Our thoughts are with his family, friends and Lokeren colleagues at this very sad time."

Chelsea on Twitter: "All at Chelsea are saddened by the death of Gregory Mertens. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and Lokeren. May he rest in peace."

Swansea on Twitter: "Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Lokeren's Gregory Mertens at this very sad time. Rest in peace, Gregory."

Guidetti punished for Rangers slur

Football

John Guidetti
SNS

Celtic striker John Guidetti has been

found guilty and given a warning by the Scottish FA for making an offensive comment relating to Rangers in a television interview.

The Swede, who is on loan from English Premier League side Manchester City, sang a song on a Dutch TV channel, which appeared to make fun of Rangers' recent financial problems.

Celtic have yet to comment, but expressed their disappointment when the SFA announced the player was to be investigated.

Hawkins 2-6 Murphy

Snooker

Away from the death of Gregory Mertens, the first session of the World Snooker Championship semi-final has concluded, with Shaun Murphy opening up a 6-2 lead over Barry Hawkins.

Belgian footballer Mertens dies aged 24

Football

Gregory Mertens
Getty Images

The statement from Lokeren concludes:

"We realise that these are incredibly difficult moments for Gregory's family. We already offer them our sincere condolences. The club remains in contact with them and will them assist them wherever possible.

"Gregory, we will miss you!"

Belgian footballer Mertens dies aged 24

Football

The Lokeren club statement continues:

"The desperation of everyone in Sporting Lokeren is large: both our young players and our first-team guys, the coaching staff, employees and the board. Gregory had only been at the club for one-and-a-half years, but in that short time his quiet modesty showed himself to be an indispensable person. Now we will have to learn to live with the loss."

Tributes to Gregory Mertens

Football

Gregory Mertens
Thorgan Hazard

Chelsea attacker Thorgan Hazard, the Belgian who is on loan at Borussia Moenchengladbach,

tweets: "Rest in peace Gregory Mertens -24 is too young."

Belgium and Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke

tweets: "RIP Greg you were a good guy!! My sincere condolences to the Mertens family.

Liverpool and Belgium goalkeeper Simon Mignolet

tweets: "RIP Gregory Mertens, strength to family and friends."

Romelu Lukaku, Everton and Belgium striker,

tweets: "Rest in peace Gregory Mertens ... Gone to soon..Life is crazy sometimes man... One day you're here next day you're gone."

Belgian footballer Mertens dies aged 24

Football

More from Lokeren:

"On Monday night during the reserve game between KRC Genk and Sporting Lokeren, Gregory suffered a heart failure.

"Despite the good medical care of our own sports staff and colleagues in Genk, it soon appeared that the situation was very serious. Gregory was treated on the field and transferred to the hospital in Genk. The medical staff has done everything to save Gregory, but they finally had to acknowledge their impotence. Today, at 15:30 BST, Gregory died. The family has been able to say goodbye."

Belgian footballer Mertens dies aged 24

Football

Mertens' club Lokeren have released a

statement on their website.

"Today something happened that no one could ever suspect or dare. Much too soon, we say goodbye to Gregory Mertens.

"We are a football club. Everyone in and around the club breathes football. But suddenly something happens when we realise that football is just football. Today is such a time."

The career of Gregory Mertens

Football

Gregory Mertens
Getty Images

Gregory Mertens started his career at Anderlecht - his hometown club - in 2004.

The centre-back went on to play for Cercle Brugge before joining Lokeren in 2014.

He played in 15 league games this term, as well as against Hull City in the Europa League in August.

Mertens was capped at Belgian youth level and made seven appearances for the under-21 side.

Belgian footballer Mertens dies aged 24

Football

Mertens began his career at the country's most successful club, Anderlecht, but moved to Lokeren in January last year from Cercle Bruges.

He had been capped several times by Belgium at under-21 level.

Belgium suffered the loss of another young talent in January this year when 20-year-old Junior Malanda of German Bundesliga side Wolfsburg died in a car crash.

Belgian footballer Mertens dies aged 24

Football

Gregory Mertens
Getty Images

Mertens collapsed 20 minutes into a game against Genk reserves on Monday. He received treatment on the pitch before being placed in an induced coma in hospital.

Belgian footballer Mertens dies aged 24

Football

Belgian footballer Gregory Mertens has died at the age of 24, three days after suffering a heart attack while playing for Lokeren's reserves.

Garry Monk news conference

Swansea v Stoke (Saturday, 15:00)

It says something about Swansea's season that Saturday's game is "their biggest of the season", according to manager Garry Monk.

Victory over Newcastle last weekend kept them in eighth place on a record tally of 50 points, three points and one place ahead of Stoke with four games remaining.

"It's a vital game and probably the most important one of our season," Monk said. "We've been in the top 10 all year and it is important that we consolidate that position. There is a real possibility for us to finish eighth and the highest we have ever finished in the Premier League.

Tim Sherwood news conference

Aston Villa v Everton (Sat, 12:45 BST)

@Jam_man9 suggested on Twitter that Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood would discuss "something about tactics, win ratios and gilets being coats" in his news conference previewing Saturday's game with Everton.

Not even close.

Sherwood said Alan Hutton (ankle) could return but the Toffees game comes too soon for Gabby Agbonlahor (hamstring).

Tim Sherwood
Getty Images

"Alan is back in training, which is good news for us. We will assess him again on Friday," said the Villa boss.

"Gabby is still not training. He's done some light work. We are hoping to have him back in full training at the beginning of next week though."

Hawkins 2-5 Murphy

Snooker

In the blink of an eye, Shaun Murphy has won the seventh frame with a total clearance of 138. Hawkins had the break, but that was the only he shot he played. There is one more frame remaining this afternoon.

On this day

Lou Gehrig
Getty Images

Before he became synonymous with the muscle-wasting disease that took his life in 1941, Lou Gehrig enjoyed an incredible baseball career.

On this day in 1939, he set a Major League record when he played his 2,130th consecutive game for New York Yankees - a run that started in June 1925.

Hawkins 2-4 Murphy

Snooker

Barry Hawkins has once again closed the gap on Shaun Murphy to two frames, dragging their World Championship semi-final back to 4-2. Murphy, though, is already in the balls in frame number seven.

Arsenal starlet's mother banned

Football

Here's a strange one...

Arsenal have

banned the mother of young player Ainsley Maitland-Niles after she was involved in a training-ground dispute and threatened to withdraw the winger from an under-21 match.

Police were called and arrested Jule Niles after she confronted executive Dick Law and her son's agent. No charges ensued but she has been subsequently issued with a warning.

Clare Balding show

Boxing

Chris Eubank
Clare Balding

We're just going to leave this picture here without comment... Chris Eubank on the Clare Balding show with his son, Chris Jr.

Watch the full interview with Eubank, his son, Chris Eubank Jr, and former QPR manager Harry Redknapp on the Clare Balding Show, Friday 1 May, 22:00 BST on BBC Two and the BBC Sport website.

Tim Sherwood news conference

Aston Villa v Everton (Sat, 12:45 BST)

Apologies if you're still waiting to hear from Tim Sherwood. So are we...

How about we pass the time by surmising what the garrulous Aston Villa might have to say. Send your suggestions to #bbcsportsday.

Daley 'back to his best'

Diving

Commonwealth Games gold medallist

Tom Daley and other British athletes will be competing in the Diving World Series in London this weekend.

Tom Daley
Getty Images

The event is being held at the Aquatics Centre, where Daley won a bronze medal in the 10m platform during the London 2012.

And the Plymouth man said he's "the best, most dedicated and most committed diver" he's ever been.

You can watch for yourself this weekend. Coverage begins on Friday, 1 May on BBC Red Button and online.

SPFL announces start dates

Football

Has your team's season fizzled out to nothing? Why not look ahead to next term, with the Scottish Professional Football League having announced the start dates for the 2015/16 campaign.

SPFL dates
SPFL

Garry Monk news conference

Swansea v Stoke (Saturday, 15:00)

"We're all trying to break into the monopoly of the top six or seven, which is very difficult to do. Between the rest of us, the margins are very small so I look at it as two leagues within the league."

Laidlaw's Edinburgh encounter

Rugby Union

Greig Laidlaw
Getty Images

Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw says he made the right his decision when he left his hometown club Edinburgh to join Premiership side Gloucester last summer.

The two teams will meet in Friday's European Challenge Cup final, with Edinburgh hoping to become the first Scottish side to win a European trophy.

"It was the right decision to move away,"

said 29-year-old Laidlaw.

"I've really enjoyed it and feel I've played a lot of good rugby this year. I'll need to do that again on Friday."

Pearson apologises

Football

The journalist at the centre of "ostrichgate", Ian Baker, has just tweeted Nigel Pearson's apology from Thursday's news conference.

Ian Baker Twitter
Ian Baker Twitter

#bestbossrant

Get involved

We asked you to vote on which managerial rant was the best and 35% of you have gone for Kevin Keegan's "I would love it" outburst.

You've all let me down. How can it be a proper rant without a swearie?

At least Sir Alex Ferguson's "You're all ******* idiots" diatribe attracted 12% - the same share as Rafa Benitez's "I want to talk about facts" tantrum.