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Peaking Parker

Posted: 27 Mar 2011 09:07 PM PDT

Hammers captain finally playing his best

Monday, March 28th, 2011 11:51:00

LONDON: West Ham midfielder Scott Parker insists he is playing his best football of his career after his Man-of-the-Match display in England's 2-0 win over Wales in their Group G match at Millenium Stadium on Saturday.

Scott Parker

SCOTTY TOO HOTTY: Parker determined to make most of England chance

The talismanic Hammers captain made up a midfield trio with Frank Lampard and Jack Wilshere as the Three Lions cruised past Gary Speed's men and took control of the group.

"I feel like I am probably playing the best football of my career. I went into the Wales game confident and in form and hopefully I showed that out there," said Parker.

Parker admitted he drew confidence from an excellent second-half display in England's recent friendly with Denmark — a cap which won the 30-yearold the honour of being the first England player to win his first four caps while playing for four different clubs.

After spells at Charlton, Chelsea and Newcastle, Parker now believes he has the experience to pounce on opportunities. He hopes his ability will step up and perform when needed will land him future chances for his country.

"The one thing I have noticed in my career is that when the opportunity comes, you need to try and grab it with two hands," he said. "If you go back through my career — whether it was when I went out on loan at Norwich and came back with Alan Curbishley put me in the team at Charlton — that has happened.

"I thought about that before kick-off in Cardiff. I knew I had to take my chances in this game for definite. I would like to think that I can keep going the way I am going and do what I am doing.

"If I can do that and keep impressing the right people, then hopefully I can get a few more caps under my belt."

During a season in which the midfielder inspired West Ham teammates with halftime team talks, the former Professional Footballers Association Young- Player-of the-Year also had to cope with the loss of his father recently. He admits it was disappointing that he could not be in Cardiff to watch the match.

"I have been dealing with that in my own way and trying to stay strong," he said. "I suppose the one disappointing fact was that he wasn't at Cardiff to see me play for England but I am sure he would have been looking down and been very proud."

Meanwhile, Sky Sports reported England will require a new captain for their friendly against Ghana at Wembley on Wednesday (4am) after John Terry was among six players released from the national side. Coach Fabio Capello reinstated Terry as skipper last week and the centreback led the team to the win over Wales.

However, Terry will not be involved Ghana after being allowed to return to his club Chelsea. Club teammates Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole were also released from the squad ahead of Chelsea's upcoming Champions League tie against Manchester United next week.

United striker Wayne Rooney and Tottenham defender Michael Dawson, who are also in Champions League action, have also returned to their respective clubs.

However, Dawson's Spurs colleagues Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe and Aaron Lennon remain in the squad after playing no part against Wales. Aston Villa's on-loan fullback Kyle Walker will also miss the Ghana friendly after confirming on his Twitter feed that he is carrying a slight injury.

The decision to release Terry from the squad, along with Cole, Lampard and Rooney, will leave Capello short on options for the captaincy against Ghana.

Midfielder Gareth Barry has previously been passed the armband during games, but he was not in the starting line-up at Millennium Stadium.

The Manchester City midfielder would appear the likely candidate to skipper England tomorrow but there could also be a clamour for impressive Arsenal teenager Jack Wilshere to be given the job.

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Balotelli caught throwing darts at City’s youth players

Posted: 27 Mar 2011 09:03 PM PDT

Monday, March 28th, 2011 11:51:00

LONDON: Manchester City are set to discuss striker Mario Balotelli's disciplinary issues after he was reportedly caught throwing darts from a first floor window.

The People claimed Balotelli lobbed the missiles in the direction of youth team players because he was "bored". The incident occurred at City's Carrington training complex, and the club said nobody was injured. However, the volatile hitman could still face a fine for his actions.

A club spokesman said: "The matter will be dealt with internally."

Controversy has dogged "Super Mario" since his arrival from Inter Milan in summer 2010. Last week, City boss Roberto Mancini accused the 20-year-old of betraying his trust and being "stupid" after he was sent off as they were knocked out of the Europa League by Dynamo Kiev.

"Balotelli needs to use his brain — if he doesn't he will find things very difficult," said the Italian tactician. "He is a young player, but this is the time when he needs to start thinking with his head. He is a fantastic player and his talent does not deserve this situation.

"But he has let down the players, the squad, and me because I trusted him 100 per cent."

Before the game, he was shown on TV apparently unable to put on a training bib and the video became an internet sensation.

In the first-leg of that tie, he was substituted after suffering an allegic reaction to the grass in Kiev. Balotelli was sent off against West Brom in the league in November and has picked up nine yellow cards in 21 appearances.

Just weeks after signing, he was unhurt after being involved in a two-car collision in Cheshire in his Audi A8. For all his problems, Balotelli scored 10 goals for City and is rated as one of the most talented youngsters in the world.

He recently admitted he needed help to control his temper on the pitch, and City are determined to ensure he does not waste his talent.

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