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Ian Wright given major dilemma as Jurgen Klopp and Wayne Rooney earmarked for new roles

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JOHN CROSS COLUMN: Former Arsenal Ian Wright impressed during his Sky Sports debut and could be set to perform a major U-turn on his decision to take a step back from punditry

Ian Wright was a huge hit as a guest on Sky’s Monday Night Football show.

And with football punditry set for a major shake-up this summer, you can be sure that Sky would happily make Wright a more regular fixture. Arsenal legend Wright has already said that he is stepping away from BBC’s Match of the Day at the end of the season, citing he wants more time with his family and also to go to games as a fan.

Wright, 60, a hugely popular figure among football fans, has been a fixture on the TV screens on Saturday and Sunday nights and there is no doubt that it is a huge commitment. But Sky might be able to persuade Wright to join them on a more semi-regular basis as part of their line-up with the likes of Daniel Sturridge also appearing as a guest.

Wright already has great chemistry with Sky stalwarts Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher who are part of the broadcaster’s stellar line-up. Match of the Day may also look for a shake-up when the next TV deal kicks in with plenty of talk around Gary Lineker’s long-term future as a host.

Wayne Rooney is also rapidly becoming a very popular pundit after impressive stints on Sky and TNT Sports. There will be no shortage of offers for former England captain Rooney within the TV world.

TV execs are already buzzing around Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp to see if they can tempt him into the media for the Euros this summer but that looks a non-starter as he wants to go as a fan. Klopp is leaving Anfield this summer for a break but they would all love him – especially given that the tournament is being hosted in Germany

Under-fire ref issues perfect response

Referee Rob Jones had the perfect commanding response to Nottingham Forest boss Nuno Espirito Santo and his coaches at Brighton on Sunday. Jones was fourth official at the Amex and copped a lot of stick from Forest who were angry on the touchline and in the tunnel after the game.

But Jones – who was in charge of Arsenal’s win over Brentford at the Emirates the previous day – cuts an imposing figure and was heard to shout back at Nuno: “Show me some respect.”

Witnesses were really impressed with the way Jones handled the situation and himself, not least because less than 24 hours earlier Brentford players were having a go at him in a tunnel row for not sending off Kai Havertz for a second yellow card.

‌Forest were incensed that Brighton midfielder Jakub Moder avoided a red card for an X-rated challenge and the club have even employed ex-Prem ref Mark Clattenburg as a consultant. Even when decisions go against teams, there should be no excuse for abusing the ref and Jones was impressive in reasserting authority.

Trippier goes above and beyond for Newcastle

Kieran Trippier wants to make the trip to Manchester City for Newcastle’s FA Cup quarter final on Saturday.

England full back Trippier is currently out injured but went to Chelsea on Monday night purely to offer his support for the rest of the squad. Trippier, 33, is a huge character in the dressing room for club and country and his backing for the rest of the dressing room just underlines why managers respect him so much.

Police crack down on illegal streaming

Police have staged a major purge on illegal “fire sticks” as part of a crackdown on Premier League piracy.

Eleven people were given conditional cautions as part of an operation to track down online sellers who regularly offer “fully loaded” sticks which show live matches. It was designed by the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) to show they will target smaller individuals as well as bigger piracy operations. Last year, Steven Mills was jailed for two and a half years after running an operation with 30,000 subscribers.

The (PIPCU) is specifically organised to tackle such crimes along with anti-piracy organisation FACT. Kieron Sharp, CEO at FACT, said: “The success achieved through this targeted operation is directly attributable to the outstanding effort and robust support from PIPCU.

“By implementing these measures, a strong message has been conveyed: piracy is a criminal act that is treated with utmost seriousness and decisive action will be taken against suppliers of illicit services regardless of their size or scale.”

England stars still open to Saudi

Even though Jordan Henderson’s move to Saudi Arabia did not work out, that has not stopped England players being curious about potential money-spinning moves to the Gulf state.

There have been plenty of players wondering what it was like and if it could work for them which is probably the reason why Saudi Pro League chiefs still believe they may be able to tempt an England star. Saudi Pro League chiefs are determined to buy big again this summer – and there will be offers available to England and Premier League-based stars.

Peter Risdale, an executive director at Preston North End and member of the EFL board, said this week that the EFL would have accepted an offer from the Premier League had they made one.

But the EFL did go to the Premier League with 15 points within a set of proposals in September that needed changing, including one which was a deal breaker.

 

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