40 Monday, 19 October 2009 London Lite LITESPORT Inbrief Balls up ref set to be let down MICK JONES, the blundering referee at the centre of beach ball- gate, will be left feeling deflated after it was reported that he will be bounced off this weekends match list. The Cheshire official, 41, allowed Darren Bents winner against Liverpool to stand, despite the ball taking a massive deflection off a stray beach ball on its way into the net. The goal should have been ruled out and Jones will be asked to explain his lack of action by the FA. Hughes knows sparks will fly MARK HUGHES expects the battle for Premier League honours to be more keenly contested than ever this season. This year has the potential to be as open as it has ever been, he said after Citys 1-1 draw at Wigan. The top four teams will drop points and I expect that will continue. What everyone is trying to do is get into a position by March where you are still in contention. Giggs joins list of United crocks MANCHESTER UNITED are set to be without reinvigorated Welsh winger Ryan Giggs for Wednesdays Champions League trip to CSKA Moscow. Giggs suffered a knock towards the end of Saturdays 2-1 win over Bolton and is unlikely to travel to the Luzhniki Stadium. Manager Sir Alex Ferguson also has doubts over Wayne Rooney, Patric Evra, Dimitar Berbatov and Nemanja Vidic. Santo will leave after Christmas BLACKBURN boss Sam Allardyce is resigned to returning Franco di Santo to Chelsea in January when his loan move ends. Allardyce believes their league rivals will require the Argentinians services with a number of players away on African Nations Cup duty. Di Santo, 20, scored his first top- filght goal in yesterdays 3-2 over Burnley. Allardyce said: Chelsea have a ban and with the African Nations they will need him. Swedish FA will call for Eriksson FORMER England boss Sven- Goran Eriksson will be sounded out about the Sweden job this week. Lars Lagerback stood down last week and Eriksson, 61, now director of football at Notts County, is on the wanted list. Swedish Football Association president Lars-Ake Lagrell told BBC Sport: I am a friend of Svennis. Well have a telephone conversation on Wednesday, then I hope to know more. Hammers fear Bowe FULHAM v HULL CITY PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE ON ESPN FROM 7PM (KICK-OFF: 8PM) WEST HAM are treating with caution a reported move by a group of American investors to buy the club for 100m. The Hammers, in trouble on the field as well as off it after Satur- days 2-1 defeat at Stoke, have indicated they have only had the briefest of contact with the Inter- market Group, led by Jim Bowe. And a West Ham spokesman said: Weve had enough false dawns here. Sources said the Hammers, who are off to their worst-ever start to a Premier League season, were shocked when Bowe, ex- president of the New York Board of Trade, gave an extensive interview to the News of the World yesterday. LiteSport under- stands he had only a brief pre- liminary discussion with StraumurbankexecutiveAndrew Bernhardt on Friday. The American paraphrased a line from West Hams Forever BowingBubblesanthem,saying: Fortune has been hiding for too long, and adding: We want to move quickly beuase West Ham needsstabilityandmoneytooper- ate in the transfer window. The club currently regard Bowe as only a potential bidder along with five others. David Sullivan and David Gold are also circling the Upton Park club after selling Birmingham to CarsonYeungfor82m.Straumur originally wanted 120m for the clubbutanofferof 100mmay be enough. The teams on-field form -- they are second-from- bottom with only one win this season -- is not helping. Manager Gianfranco Zola (left), whose team finished ninth last season, said: We didnt deserve to lose at Stoke. It is tough for me to have a go at the players because I thought they gave everything. We are playing well but we are paying a high price for every mistake we make. Stokes former Chelsea defender Robert Huth escaped a red card after appearing to strike Matthew Upson in the face while waiting for a corner. The German looks certain to be banned if the FA decide to investigate the incident. Caution over report of US consortiums takeover attempt BY NEAL COLLINS The man who would be King for another term LEDLEY KING hopes a decent run in the Tottenham side will convince the club to open new contract talks. His current deal expires at the end of this season, but despite his injury worries, King scored and gave another demonstration of his importance to the team with a commanding performance in Saturdays 2-1 win at Portsmouth. I dont think anythings happened regarding a new contract yet, said King, whose team remain third in the Premier League, just three points adrift of leaders Manchester United. I just want to try to have a spell of staying fit, and Im sure well start talking. Chelsea could call on Alex to fill gaps left by Carvalho CHELSEAS Brazilian centre-back Alex (below ) is set to play for the reserves against West Ham tonight in what will be his first game since a groin injury during pre-season -- and if he comes through unscathed, he could replace Ricardo Carvalho in Chelseas next League game against Blackburn on Saturday. Carvalho, 31, has been a fine servant for Chelsea since he joined from Porto for 19.85m in 2004, but the past 12 months have not been easy. Last season a hamstring problem restricted him to just 11 League starts and he appeared keen to leave for Inter Milan in the summer. Chelseas 2-1 reverse at Aston Villa on Saturday was their second away defeat in a row after Wigan last month, and goalkeeper Petr Cech acknowledged: We have conceded three goals from set plays. We need to get back our discipline to avoid these goals because it can be costly. Chelsea face Atletico Madrid on Wednesday and boss Carlo Ancelotti said: I dont think this loss has anything to do with the Champions League. It was a difficult game, Villa have a good team, but overall we played better than them. We conceded two goals from corner kicks, which made it difficult for us. I think we created more chances to score more goals. PREMIER LEAGUE P W D L F A PTS MANUTD 9 7 1 1 21 9 22 CHELSEA 9 7 0 2 19 8 21 TOTTENHAM 9 6 1 2 21 13 19 ARSENAL 8 6 0 2 27 11 18 MANCITY 8 5 2 1 16 9 17 ASTONVILLA 8 5 1 2 12 7 16 SUNDERLAND 9 5 1 3 17 13 16 LIVERPOOL 9 5 0 4 22 13 15 STOKE 9 3 3 3 8 11 12 BURNLEY 9 4 0 5 9 19 12 EVERTON 8 3 2 3 10 12 11 BLACKBURN 8 3 1 4 11 17 10 WIGAN 9 3 1 5 9 16 10 BOLTON 8 2 2 4 11 13 8 WOLVES 9 2 2 5 8 15 8 FULHAM 7 2 1 4 6 10 7 BIRMINGHAM 9 2 1 6 6 11 7 HULL 8 2 1 5 8 20 7 WESTHAM 8 1 2 5 9 13 5 PORTSMOUTH 9 1 0 8 5 15 3 BY HARRY LANE Leds I win: King towers above Pompey defenders to head home set to play for the reserves against West Ham tonight in rst gamewhat will be his fi since a groin injury during pre-season -- and if he comes through Carvalho, 31, has ne servant forbeen a fi Chelsea since he joined from Porto for 19.85m in 2004, but the past 12 months have not been easy. Last season a hamstring problem restricted him to just 11 League starts and he appeared keen to leave for Inter Milan in the summer. Chelseas 2-1 reverse at Aston Villa on Saturday was their second away defeat in a row after Wigan last month, and goalkeeper Petr Cech acknowledged: We have conceded three goals from set plays. We need to get back costly. Chelsea face Atletico Madrid on Wednesday and boss Carlo Ancelotti said: I dont think this loss has anything to do with the Champions League. It was a cult game, Villadiffi Roy calls for a boos ban on heros return ROY HODGSON fears Jimmy Bullard may get a frosty reception if he makes his long-awaited comeback from injury at Craven Cottage tonight. Bullard was a popular figure at Fulham but turned his back on the Cottagers in favour of a better salary as part of a 5m record transfer to the KC Stadium. The move soon turned sour for the Tigers though when he was carried off on a stretcher just 37 minutes into his debut with cruciate knee ligament damage. Hodgson concedes booing former players has become an unfortunate part of the modern game. I would imagine that he will not get a bad reception but I dont know how fans think in those areas, Hodgson said. The game has changed enormously in that respect. In the past you wouldnt have imagined it but these days you see Barry getting booed every touch he makes when playing for Man City against Aston Villa, so who knows? I wouldnt like to think that will happen though and certainly I would take no satisfaction from our fans doing that so I rather hope that they will give him a better reception. Bullard was also ruled out for 16 months with the same injury at Craven Cottage before returning to star in Fulhams unlikely escape from relegation in 2008. He wrote himself into Cottagers folklore on the last day of the 2007- 08 season by providing the assist for Danny Murphys winner against Portsmouth which kept Hodgsons side up. Hodgson believes Bullard (right) will be desperate to prove he is back to his best and praised his determination. Hes such an enthusiastic footballer. He loves to play so much and I take my hat off to him for overcoming this latest set back. Im pretty sure that the Hull medical staff will be holding him back because hell be so keen to play. LATEST BETTING MATCH ODDS Fulham 8-13, Hull 11-4, draw 9-2 BY GEOFF TEATHER spokesmanHamWestaAnd enoughhadWevesaid: here.dawnsfalse thesaidSources whoHammers, theirtooffare startworst-ever theofpresident BoardYorkNew angaveTrade,of interviewextensive WorldtheofNews LiteSport under- may100mofofferanbutclub enough.be eldon-fiteamsThe arethey--form second-from- withbottom Zola teamwhose lastninthnishedfi Wesaid:season, atlosetodeservedidnt tomefortoughisItStoke.