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Monday, August 6, 2012
Seagulls scalp, Muamba could be back

Will Tidey

Welcome to The Trawler, your weekly submersion through the teeming waters of life in the Championship, League One and League Two. You might be surprised what you find down there.

Seagulls scalp

Brighton's first appearance at the Amex Stadium this pre-season will have fans and pundits alike talking up their chances of promotion. Gus Poyet's men beat European champions Chelsea 3-1 on Saturday, replying to Frank Lampard's opener with goals from Vicente, Ashley Barnes and Andrew Crofts, before a crowd of just over 17,000 on the south coast. Albion's win was all the more impressive when you consider the strength of the Chelsea side they took down. Petr Cech, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres were among the stellar cast to join Lampard in the Blues' starting lineup, but no amount of star quality could deny Brighton a hard-earned victory ahead of the new Championship season. Gus Poyet was particularly impressed with Barnes, whose emphatic finish past Cech hinted at a potentially prolific season ahead for the man who led the Seagulls' scoring in the 2011-12 campaign. "Ashley Barnes was a little bit above everyone today in terms of what we try to do as a team and what we want our players to do on the pitch," Poyet said.

Rovers friendly called off

Blackburn's friendly fixture against NEC Nijmegen in Holland was called off by the town's deputy mayor due to fears of fan violence. A statement released from the office of Henk Beerten cited incidents of rioting from Rovers' fans in the days leading up to the match, and appeared to lay the blame on the Championship club for the decision. Rovers await full disclosure of events, but have commented at their official website. "Our supporters have a great record on travels to matches in many countries in recent years," said Rovers' operations director Paul Agnew. "For it to be necessary to cancel this game at such late notice was a great shame. The full facts remain unclear, but it would seem very wrong for anyone to point the finger of blame at our fans at this stage."

Muamba could be back

Bolton Wanderers' midfielder Fabrice Muamba will meet a senior cardiologist this week to determine whether he can resume his professional playing career. Muamba's life was in the balance after his heart stopped during an FA Cup tie at White Hart Lane in March, but the 24-year-old has since made a remarkable recovery and may yet return to the field this season in the Championship. Muamba has already admitted to taking part in a kick-about at a Dubai hotel, after he spotted a game during a holiday. "I just went in through the groove and played for about 20-25 minutes," he said. "It was just playing like normal, it was just playing like I was training. It was great, I enjoyed it."

Barton denies Fleetwood deal

Joey Barton has taken to Twitter to deny reports he is set to agree a six-month loan spell at League Two Fleetwood. Barton is currently training with the club, and the BBC have claimed a deal is imminent for the 29-year-old to start the season there. But Barton's 1.6 million followers have been told otherwise. "BBC news jumping the gun a bit," Barton said. "I've not signed for Fleetwood. Just currently enjoying training there."

Three become two at Pompey

Portsmouth are down to two senior players, after Dave Kitson agreed to terminate his contract on Friday. With Liam Lawrence said to be negotiating his exit, the club's administrators are now focusing their attention on convincing Tal Ben Haim to join the forced exodus, as they attempt to clear the books before August 10 in a bid to secure their future. Said administrator Trevor Birch of the Ben Haim situation: "He might think it's a game of bluff and the club won't close, but I think he will very soon find out that it is real. I am trying to fight to save the club going into oblivion but we only have a few days left and it's on a knife edge, I cannot genuinely tell you what will happen." Remarkably, despite the palpable sense of impending doom engulfing them, Pompey's remaining players somehow came together to beat Bolton 3-0 in a friendly on Saturday.

Forest keep signing

Nottingham Forest have made former Doncaster midfielder Simon Gillett their fifth signing of the summer window. The 26-year-old worked with Forest boss Sean O'Driscoll at Rovers, so his arrival as a free agent hints at a strong standing relationship between the pair.

Di Canio corner

Paolo Di Canio has nixed Zavon Hines' trial at Swindon after just two days. "I can't give him 40 days for pre-season," Di Canio said. "It's my opinion - I don't want to put him in trouble. He's just far from our level of fitness. We said to him it wasn't fair to keep him here for seven days. I don't think now I can find players who have the level of fitness that my players do." Striker Hines started his career at West Ham, before moving to Burnley for the 2011-12 season. He was released by the Championship club last month, however, and the 23-year-old now finds himself a free agent - albeit a free agent who's just been publicly outed as having shocking levels of fitness. Any takers?

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