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Peter Whittingham dies after suffering head injury

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Former Cardiff City and Aston Villa winger Peter Whittingham has died at the age of 35 after suffering a head injury after an accidental fall.

The sad news of Whittingham’s passing was announced on Thursday and came after he was said to have fallen over at a pub in Barry, Wales on March 7, according to a police statement.

An England U21 international, Whittingham starred for Cardiff City during his 17-year career as he played 457 times for the Bluebirds.

After coming through Aston Villa’s academy Whittingham made 56 appearances for them in the Premier League before spending the majority of his career playing for Cardiff in the Championship. He also had loan spells at Burnley and Derby County as he finished his career at Blackburn Rovers during the 2018-19 campaign, after which he retired.

Cardiff released a statement mourning the passing of Peter Whittingham, a tricky winger with an eye for goal.

“It is with an immeasurable amount of sorrow that we must inform supporters that Peter Whittingham has passed away at the age of 35. We are heartbroken. The news of Peter’s sudden and untimely passing has shaken us to our very foundation. Our love goes out to his wife Amanda, their young son and family. They are at the forefront of our thoughts and, on their behalf, we ask for their privacy to be respected at this unfathomably cruel and difficult time.

“First and foremost, Peter was a family man – and somebody who could light up a room with his sense of humour, warmth and personality. Then, as a professional footballer – as a Bluebird – he excelled with talent, ease, grace and humility. Nobody did it better. The loss of Peter will be painfully felt by our city, supporters and indeed all who ever had the pleasure of knowing him. We love you Pete and your memory will eternally stay with us.”

RIP, Peter Whittingham.

Report on Sala death concludes pilot, plane unqualified to fly

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The Air Accidents Investigation Branch published its year-long investigation into the crash that killed footballer Emiliano Sala in January of 2019.

In the report, the Branch determined that the pilot, David Ibbotson, who also died in the crash, was not licensed to fly commercially despite expecting to be paid for the trip and his rating for the particular aircraft, a single-engine Piper Malibu N264DB, had expired. In addition, the report added that Ibbotson was not qualified to fly at night. “Neither the plane nor the pilot had the required licenses or permissions to operate commercially,” the report concluded.

“This flight was clearly an illegal charter, something we’ve said for a long time needs to stop,” said Dave Edwards, chief executive of the Air Charter Association on the report. “I think what’s most sad is that there were probably about seven opportunities throughout the sequence where this flight could have stopped, and in a commercial environment it would have stopped, but in this case it just carried on through those levels until the ultimate moment of impact. Everything that could go wrong sadly did go wrong.”

In addition, the report found numerous faults with the aircraft. There was carbon monoxide leaking into the cabin from the plane’s heating system as well as a faulty autopilot that should have been labeled “inoperative.” The carbon monoxide was a significant contributing factor to the crash, as the report stated that tests on Sala’s blood concluded it contained enough carbon monoxide to cause seizure, heart attack or unconsciousness, concluding that Ibbotson likely was suffering from exposure as well, which would have significantly hampered his ability to fly safely.

“The pathologist considered he [Sala] would almost certainly have been deeply unconscious at impact,” the report states. However, the report does conclude that Ibbotson was conscious and attempting to fly the plane at the moment of impact into the English Channel.

Sala also reportedly voiced his concerns about the aircraft moments before takeoff, saying in a voice message to friends in Argentina, “I’m in a plane that seems to be falling apart,” before adding, “I’m scared.”

Sala was flying from Nantes, France to Cardiff to complete a transfer from Ligue 1 side Nantes to then-Premier League club Cardiff City.

Championship focus: West Brom go 6 points clear; Fulham stumble at Millwall

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A roundup of the top-of-the-table action in the EFL Championship, where nine points separate places 1 through 7, and three points is the difference between third place and seventh…

[ MORE: The race for Premier League promotion is red-hot ]

Reading 1-2 West Bromwich Albion

West Brom capitalized on Leeds United’s slip-up to go six points clear at the top of the Championship table with a dozen games left to play. The Baggies fell behind on an early penalty, but fought back into the game before halftime and went ahead for good shortly thereafter.

George Puscas put Reading ahead after 11 minutes, but Matheus Pereira put home his own rebound to make it 1-1 in the 26th and Kyle Bartley completed the comeback with a looping header to the far post four minutes into the second half.

West Brom have spent the vast majority of the season occupying either first or second place in the table, and appear headed for a return to the PL after two seasons of regrouping in the second division.

[ MORE: Report: Chelsea closing in on Hakim Ziyech deal ]

Millwall 1-1 Fulham

No side had more to gain from Leeds’ draw with fourth-place Brentford than Fulham, who entered Wednesday a point back for the second automatic promotion place. A win would have seen the Cottagers into second place ahead of a critical stretch of their schedule (five of their next seven opponents currently reside in the top-10).

Alas, it was a disappointing, largely listless display from both sides at The Den as Millwall held the promotion hopefuls to a 1-1 draw.

Aleksandar Mitrovic fired Fulham ahead after just three minutes but Millwall were level through Jon Dadi Bodvarsson just four minutes later, and that was all the scoring there would be in east London. Rather than going two points clear of third, Fulham remain third and sit two points clear of fourth.

Elsewhere in the Championship

Stoke City 0-2 (6th) Preston North End
(7th) Bristol City 3-2 Derby County
Huddersfield Town 0-3 (10th) Cardiff City
Luton Town 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday

Report: Juventus ready to sell Aaron Ramsey after one season

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Could Aaron Ramsey be returning to England?

A report from Italy says Juventus is willing to sell the 29-year-old Welshman after an injury-riddle start to his time in Serie A.

Ramsey opted to sign with the Turin side on a free transfer, earning a rich deal from the serial Serie A champs.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Any exit carries a word of caution for those hoping he might their club: Ramsey’s had a reported salary of around $162,000 per week. He’d have to agree to a new deal, as few will be willing to pay that wage.

As we’ve seen with Gareth Bale, a club wanting to sell a big-wage player and the player willing to take a pay cut can be mutually exclusive concepts.

Who would have the money to meet his expectations? Would Mikel Arteta‘s return to Arsenal and new leadership move the meter? Arsenal was speaking about a new deal for the Welshman before a seeming change in attitude. Only Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang make more than Ramsey’s reported wage. PSG? Manchester United?

Ramsey has two goals in 19 matches for Juve, none since an early November goal at Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League.

His lack of playing time is certainly a concern for Wales, who is preparing for EURO 2020. Ramsey has 16 goals and seven assists in 60 caps.

FA Cup: Liverpool’s kids triumph; Saint-Maximin stunner saves Newcastle

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There was drama throughout the FA Cup’s fourth round replays on Tuesday, including a dominant performance from Liverpool’s youngest team ever.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Only one other Premier League side was in action, and they managed to throw away an early 2-0 lead at League One opposition.

Liverpool 1-0 Shrewsbury Town

Liverpool’s kids more than held their own at Anfield, they dominated League One side Shrewsbury to leave little doubt about how this would’ve gone had Jurgen Klopp deployed even a handful of senior players.

The Reds took the first nine shots of the match, and Shrewsbury Town scored on its first shot of the night but saw it disallowed by VAR.

Canadian 20-year-old Liam Millar was one of many Reds to make their senior debut in the win.

An own goal ended up being the difference on the day for Liverpool, who will enjoy a fifth-round visit to Chelsea.

Derby County 4-2 Northampton Town

Andre Wisdom scored early and American midfielder Duane Holmes had the Rams up 2-0 when he contributed to a goal for the fourth time in five matches.

Jack Marriott had a quick answer for Nicky Adams’ early second-half goal. Wayne Rooney rounded out the scoring as his Derby earned a visit from old pals Manchester United in the fifth round.

Oxford United 2-3 Newcastle United

Sean Longstaff finally found his form for the Magpies, scoring a beautiful goal and setting up Joelinton for another as the Magpies took a 2-0 lead into the break.

The U’s pulled one back through a terrific Liam Kelly free kick in the 84th minute, and Nathan Holland scored a beauty in stoppage time to send the match into extra time.

The second half and start of extra time was almost exclusively under Oxford United’s control, but Allan Saint-Maximin‘s incredible late goal lifted Newcastle to victory.

One thing to watch: Joelinton limped off the pitch after scoring from a rib injury suffered earlier in the match. Newcastle will visit West Bromwich Albion in the fifth round.

Cardiff City 3-3 (1-4 penalties) Reading

Josh Murphy and Robert Glatzel scored for the Welsh side, but Omar Richards and Andy Rinomhota answered in the second half to put the fifth-round berth back on the table.

Murphy completed his brace in the third minute of extra time, but Reading again had an answer through Yakou Meite in the 116th minute.

Cardiff’s first penalty was saved and second attempt wayward, while Reading made its first four to move into the next round and will host Sheffield United in the final 16.

Birmingham City 2-2 (4-1 penalties) Coventry City

Amadou Bakayoko broke a second-half deadlock, but Birmingham City’s Harlee Dean scored in stoppage time to push the replay deeper.

Maxime Biamou scored in the 114th minute to restore Coventry’s lead, but Jeremie Bela answered in the 120th to force kicks.

Coventry City a date at Leicester City in the fifth round.