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Soccer

Liverpool’s advanced scouting system identifies Virgil van Dijk replacement with one issue

Liverpool have reportedly set their sights on a move to sign Brighton defender Ben White after scoring high on their scouting system. Jurgen Klopp faces a defensive crisis at Liverpool after it was confirmed at the weekend that Virgil van Dijk had ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament after a horror tackle from Jordan Pickford.

The Holland international will soon undergo surgery and begin his recovery, but it has been suggested that he may miss the remainder of the season.

The news comes as a big blow to Klopp, who failed to bring in a replacement for Dejan Lovren in the summer.

Lovren was allowed to leave after falling down the pecking order at Anfield and a number of central defenders were linked with a move to Liverpool.

Schalke centre-back Ozan Kabak was touted as a possible target but no deal materialised.

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But Van Dijk’s injury now leaves Joe Gomez and Joel Matip as the only two recognised senior centre-backs at the club.

Fabinho will likely fill in at the back having performed well when he played alongside Van Dijk against Chelsea last month.

However, both Gomez and Matip have had their injury troubles over the past few years with neither player staying fit for a long run of games.

The injury to Van Dijk has led to speculation that Liverpool will head into the January transfer window looking to bring in defensive cover.

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And Liverpool’s scouting network are reportedly considering a move to sign White from Brighton.

According to Football Insider, the former Leeds loanee scored high among Liverpool’s recruitment team, headed by sporting director Michael Edwards.

Liverpool have been credited with revolutionising a new-age scouting system, focused on digital techniques and data metrics.

And White is said to have impressed Liverpool’s networking team with his ability to cope under pressure.

However, the report does suggest Liverpool have concerns over his frame.

It is claimed that White didn’t score too high when it came to aerial duels.

The 23-year-old is still attracting plenty of interest from Liverpool though as they look to sign cover for Van Dijk in January.

The Reds have proven in the past that they’re prepared to spend big in January when the opportunity presents itself with Van Dijk, Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suarez some of the successful signings over the years in the mid-season transfer window.

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Soccer

Mesut Ozil’s decline explained by Arsenal insider as he faces Premier League snub

Mesut Ozil’s alarming Arsenal decline has led to him not even making the squad for their Europa League campaign. The German playmaker has not featured at all for Mikel Arteta’s side since lockdown and has fallen right out of favour.

The omission of their highest-earner from the Europa League squad highlighted how far Ozil has fallen at the club.

He also looks likely to miss out on their Premier League squad when it is confirmed on October 20.

It has been a remarkable fall from grace for Ozil which has left many scratching their heads wondering what went wrong.

Former team-mate Per Mertersacker, now head of the Arsenal academy and heavily involved behind the scenes, has explained his decline in form.

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And he believes Ozil starting a family and other chances away from the pitch might have contributed to his struggles.

“A lot has changed away from the field,” Mertesacker told the Klick and Rush podcast. 

“He got married, has a family. Perhaps his focus has changed. 

“Nevertheless, he is still happy and happy to play football. 

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“He’s the only player I’ve played with for three teams – Bremen, Arsenal and also at the DFB [Germany national team]. 

“So I’m very sorry that he’s currently in a situation where he’s not really used.” 

After leaving Ozil and Sokratis out of his Europa League squad, manager Mikel Arteta claimed he still wants to get the best out of them. 

“I spoke to them face to face before I released the squad and I explained the reason why the numbers that we had,” said Arteta. 

“It was really difficult to tell them that, but these are the restrictions and the rules. 

“We have to respect that decision and try to train in the best possible way to help the team in that moment and see what happens in December.” 

This week, former Gunners striker Kevin Campbell stated the German is “yesterday’s news” and dismissing him featuring again. 

“Mesut Ozil is yesterday’s news at the club,” Campbell wrote for GentingBet. 

“There is no chance that he will feature for Arsenal again this season, or ever again. 

“There have been certain things that have gone on, instances where he has gone against the club, so I don’t see where there is any room for him to come back.”

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MLB

Zeke on Dallas loss: ‘I’m sorry; this one is on me’

  • Covered NFL since 1997, Cowboys since 2003
  • Previously covered Bengals and Dolphins
  • Lives in Dallas area with his wife and two children

ARLINGTON, Texas — Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was not blaming any part of the 38-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Dak Prescott’s absence. He was putting it all on himself.

“I don’t think we can use that as an excuse,” Elliott said of not having Prescott because of a compound fracture and dislocated right ankle. “I’m just going to keep saying it over and over — I started the game out with two fumbles, gave the ball away and gave them all the momentum they need to go take off. I want to say I’m sorry and this one is on me. I need to be better.”

Elliott finished with 49 yards on 12 carries and caught a team-high eight passes but for just 31 yards. However, it was fumbles on back-to-back drives in the first and second quarters that changed the complexion of the game.

The first fumble came after catching a short pass from Andy Dalton on second down, but safety Budda Baker stripped the ball free and Jordan Phillips recovered. Eleven plays later Kyler Murray and Christian Kirk hooked up for a 6-yard flip for a touchdown.

Two plays into the next possession, Elliott fumbled again with Phillips poking the ball free at the Dallas 30. Five plays later, Kenyon Drake scored the Cardinals’ second touchdown and a 14-0 lead.

“I mean, when you’re fumbling every game obviously teams are going to lock in on it and go for it even more,” Elliott said. “That’s even more of a reason I need to figure it out, man. I don’t want to keep talking about it, but I’ve got to figure out a way to figure it out.”

When the Cowboys took the field after Elliott’s second fumble, Tony Pollard was the running back. When Elliott returned to the field after eight snaps, there was a murmur among the crowd.

“Every player that plays in this league, no different on our football team, if you don’t take care of the football, it does affect your opportunities,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “Tony got an opportunity and I thought he did some really good things with his opportunities.”

Elliott has lost a career-high four fumbles in six games and the opponents have turned every takeaway into a touchdown. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the other top-10 rushers have combined for three lost fumbles in nearly 900 fewer touches this season. Elliott has 133 touches, while the nine other backs have 1,014 touches.

“I’m giving the ball away,” Elliott said. “I wasn’t helping my team. I think they did the right thing and gave some of those reps to TP, but I can’t do that. I have to be a guy this team can lean on, especially at times like right now with so many of our starters hurt and not playing. So it’s not acceptable and I need to figure it out.”

Elliott said he focuses on keeping the ball tight in practice. The Cowboys do ball-handling drills every day in practice.

“I just got to have a short memory,” Elliott said. “I’ve got to get that behind me and play some good ball and get on a roll.”

Elliott has gone a career-long six games without a 100-yard outing. He had a five-game drought in Weeks 10-14 last season. He had not gone more than two games to open a season without a 100-yard game to his credit.

Some of that can be pinned on a defense that has struggled, but 84 of the 218 points the Cowboys have allowed this season have come off turnovers.

“He understands that. He knows that,” Dalton said. “Zeke’s going to get this thing fixed.”

He also knows he needs to get it fixed quickly.

“At the end of the day, Zeke is our bell cow, and we need to get it right,” McCarthy said. “He’s part of the plan. He’s going to be part of the success. We have to get it right. We have to take care of the football and that’s for everybody that touches the football on our team.”

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Soccer

What Man Utd star Edinson Cavani did in training before PSG Champions League clash

Manchester United star Edinson Cavani trained with his new team-mates for the first time on Sunday. The Uruguay international could feature against PSG on Tuesday night in what would be his first appearance for his new club. So Express Sport will now take a look at what the 33-year-old got up to at Carrington ahead of the match.

Running. Lot of running

Cavani hasn’t played since March, with the striker marginalised by PSG towards the end of his time at the Parc des Princes.

And, as a result, United are working hard on getting him up to speed.

The Uruguay international could be seen running a lot in training, being put through his paces alongside Brandon Williams and Alex Telles.

United could unleash him up top against PSG.

The veteran is eager to be involved in the match, having been infuriated by the Ligue 1 giants’ treatment of him towards the end of his time in France.

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Gym work

Cavani also spent time in the gym.

Though he’s a seasoned striker, a player who scored goals aplenty for both PSG and Napoli during his time in France and Italy, the 33-year-old still needs bulking up.

The Premier League is the roughest and toughest league in the world. He won’t be given time or space and, therefore, must ensure he’s in peak condition to be an Old Trafford hit.

Cavani was seen using weights.

And he wasn’t alone, with fellow United signings Facundo Pellistri and Alex Telles there to keep him company.

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Rondos

United often use rondos in training. They ping the ball to each other in a small space while somebody tries to retrieve it.

And Cavani was seen doing this at Carrington on Sunday.

The Uruguay international didn’t seem to be in the middle but he worked alongside Eric Bailly, Nemanja Matic and Tim Fosu-Mensah.

He was also seen walking out onto the turf with Matic and Fosu-Mensah next to him.

And whether all three players start against PSG remains to be seen.

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Cavani warned

Cavani, should he start, would be aiming to outscore PSG hitman Kylian Mbappe.

And the France international has warned the United star he’s out for blood, saying before the match: “Not at all, he is in a different team now.

“I wish him the best. We are going to play against him and try to beat him.”

Cavani scored 200 goals from 301 matches during his time with PSG.

And he was part of the team who lost 3-1 to United in the Champions League back in 2019.

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Soccer

Man Utd team news: Expected 3-4-1-2 formation for PSG – Solskjaer to make five changes

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could adopt a 3-4-1-2 formation for his side’s Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday. It’s a tactic that worked against the big teams last term and, therefore, could be utilised at the Parc des Princes. So Express Sport looks at the expected line up for the mouthwatering showdown.

Goalkeeper: De Gea

David De Gea’s performance levels have dropped for United over the past two years, giving Solskjaer a selection headache in the process.

But, against Newcastle, he was back to his best.

De Gea made a sensational save for United when the score was 1-1 at St James’ Park, getting down low to keep out a header.

And, therefore, he should start against PSG on Tuesday night.

Dean Henderson will likely have to make do with a place on the bench for the clash, despite excelling between the sticks so far.

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Defence: Wan-Bissaka, Shaw, Lindelof, Tuanzebe, Williams

United could use five at the back for the match against PSG.

They’ll need pace to keep the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Angel Di Maria at bay if they’re to stop the Ligue 1 giants from running riot.

With no Eric Bailly or Harry Maguire in Paris, Luke Shaw could be joined by Victor Lindelof and Axel Tuanzebe at centre-back.

And that would allow Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Brandon Williams to get forward.

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Midfield: Fred, Van de Beek, Fernandes

There’s no chance Bruno Fernandes is missing the PSG match. He was back to his best against Newcastle and, therefore, should be picked in the No 10 role.

Behind him, however, the Red Devils may tinker.

Fred and Scott McTominay did well against Newcastle and the Brazil international’s slick, calm and composed style of play suggests he might be given the nod.

Donny van de Beek could then come in in McTominay’s place.

His own style of play suits the Champions League and Solskjaer has repeatedly insisted he’ll be given chances to prove himself. Where better than the Parc des Princes?

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Forwards: Martial and Rashford

United were without Anthony Martial for the Newcastle clash.

But the France international won’t be suspended for PSG and, given he was their top scorer last term, should start the match.

Marcus Rashford may also get the nod.

The England international scored a fine goal against Newcastle and was the hero when United last travelled to Paris in March last year.

Edinson Cavani, meanwhile, is not in the travelling squad.

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MLB

Kyler Murray shakes off slow start, leads Cardinals to lopsided win vs. Cowboys in first game back home

Much like his previous six outings inside AT&T Stadium, Kyler Murray proved once again to be the best player on the field.

Returning home with the backdrop of Monday Night Football hanging overhead naturally raises the stakes. But, after a shaky start, the Bedford, Texas native settled in and made the most of his first return to his home state, turning in 262 total yards and three total touchdowns in a lopsided 38-10 Cardinals victory over the Cowboys.

“Me personally, I felt a little off all night. It wasn’t, the butterflies for me weren’t too much. I felt good all day, but I think we left a lot of things out there tonight,” Murray told ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the game. “But you know, it was a great Monday night victory for us. Defense played well, offense played well. Can’t ask for much more.”

It wasn’t a particularly efficient night for Murray, who completed just nine of 24 pass attempts for 188 yards, but he capitalized on most of his opportunities as they presented themselves, going three of four in the red zone.

Murray’s first three drives totaled 25 net yards and ended in punts, signs that perhaps the spotlight caused the young QB to press his foot a little more on the gas than usual. Murray was afforded the chance to take advantage of Dallas’ shoddy defense after Arizona’s D forced consecutive short drives thanks to a pair of Ezekiel Elliott fumbles.

Murray connected with receiver Christian Kirk on a six-yard shovel pass for the game’s first TD and running back Kenyan Drake, who had a spectacular day, punched in another. After Dallas was forced to punt on its next drive, Murray needed just one play — an 80-yard beauty of a pass to Kirk — to put Arizona up, 21-0, before halftime. Three more second-half scoring drives — one of which Murray finished for his 10th career rushing TD — followed to give the Cards the emphatic win.

With Week 6 in the books, Murray is now 7-0 dating back to high school when playing on the Cowboys’ home field, accounting for at least three touchdowns in all seven games, according to NFL Research. Always a reserved competitor, Murray downplayed his perfect stadium record when talking to Salters, but managed to admit that Monday night wasn’t some run-of-the-mill win.

“It’s special, I’m not gonna lie,” Murray said. “I tried to not make it about me all week, ’cause it’s not about me, it’s about my team. And we came out here and got the job done against a good Cowboys team, but like you said, coming back home, I think anybody wants to get a win coming back home and I’m happy we did.”

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Soccer

Arnold facing decision on walking away from Socceroos

Wednesday looms as decision day for Socceroos coach Graham Arnold as he wrestles with a career dilemma which could have huge personal ramifications as well as a massive impact on the national teams.

It is understood that the Socceroo boss is fielding a lucrative offer from South Korean club FC Seoul, who want him to take over as their manager for the upcoming K-League season.

And they want to know whether he is going to take up the offer this week – perhaps as soon as Wednesday.

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold.Credit:Getty

Arnold has been in charge of Australia's national men's team since succeeding temporary coach Bert Van Marwijk after the Dutchman shepherded the Socceroos through a fruitless World Cup in Russia two years ago.

Van Marwijk had been hired to take charge after Ange Postecoglou sensationally walked out in November 2017 having secured World Cup qualification. Postecoglou eventually moved to Asia, winning Japan's J-League title with Yokohama Marinos in 2019.

When the ex-Sydney FC boss Arnold became Socceroos coach he also took on the role of Olyroos boss as he looked to gain a deeper influence on soccer development throughout the country.

But it is believed that the A-League title winning manager has become frustrated at the lack of international action and the ebbing away of resources as the cash-strapped game looks to tighten its belt and cut costs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

His biggest issue is thought to be a reluctance to walk out on the Olyroos, whom he led through a tough Asian qualifying group to reach the Olympic Games football tournament.

That was postponed, along with the rest of the Olympics, earlier this year as COVID-19 laid waste to the sporting world but the tournament is due to be staged next year.

Arnold is a big believer in using under-23 teams as a launching pad for senior talent, and his attachment to this age cohort is reinforced by his belief that if they can play and do well in the Olympics (which the Australian men last qualified for in 2008, when he was also the Olyroos coach) then many will secure moves to stronger overseas leagues and go on to have important Socceroos careers.

It is not the fault of the FFA that the COVID-19 crisis has forced the cancellation of Australia's World Cup qualifiers and prevented Australia from taking on the best of Latin American opposition in the Copa America earlier this year.

But it is also understandable that the coaching staff, headed by Arnold, are increasingly frustrated at having to kick their heels: there is a mooted friendly with England in London later this year, but given the way the coronavirus is spreading again in Britain there is no guarantee that will go ahead either.

The chance to go and coach again in Asia will be tempting.

Arnold had one shot before, a short lived period in charge at Vegalta Sendai which lasted just six games some six years ago.

Since then he has landed A-League titles with Sydney and gained far more experience on the international stage.

FC Seoul were K-League champions as recently as 2016 but the capital city club struggled and battled against relegation from the top tier for much of last season.

Arnold has been contacted for comment but did not reply.

His agent, Tony Rallis, said: "There have been two offers that Graham has received but we are not in a position to comment on them now."

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Sports News

Arcadia Queen galloped at The Valley on Tuesday morning to prepare for the Cox Plate

Silence could be golden for Perth mare Arcadia Queen in Saturday’s Cox Plate.

The Cox Plate is famous for an electric atmosphere with The Valley forming an amphitheatre in which crowds are within metres of the horses as they do battle in the weight-for-age championship.

However, COVID-19 restrictions will render The Valley all but silent for the 100th Cox Plate.

Arcadia Queen’s co-trainer Grant Williams said the quiet could suit Arcadia Queen on Saturday but the unusual surrounds won’t worry the five-year-old.

Arcadia Queen completed her Cox Plate preparation with a 1200m gallop at Tuesday morning’s Breakfast With The Best session, which Williams said was a bit more lively than recent trips to The Valley.

“When she came here last time she was probably more relaxed but it was a bit quieter than this morning,” Williams, who trains Arcadia Queen in partnership with his wife Alana, said.

“It’s good today because there’s lots of horses, people around. It’s definitely going to help her.

William Pike and Arcadia Queen after trackwork at The Valley on Tuesday morning. Photo: Pat Scala/Racing Photos via Getty Images.Source:Getty Images

“They’ve got to go through the tunnel (out of the mounting yard). You could see her get a bit excited today so just on Saturday, she’d have done it before and will hopefully be a bit more relaxed.”

Arcadia Queen is a $5 second pick in Cox Plate betting after she rolled the favourite Russian Camelot in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield last time out.

Williams said the dual Group 1 winner had continued to thrive since that outing and would have no excuses in the Cox Plate.

“She’s probably pulled up the best out of her last run,” Williams said.

“Hopefully, everything is just starting to work out for her. We’re getting to the grand final, so I couldn’t be happier with her.

“I’ll get her home and give her a little bit more work on Thursday and then come here and have no excuses.”

Williams said he wanted a barrier inside six for Arcadia Queen but she drew barrier eight. He said overcoming the draw was now the task of jockey William Pike.

Originally published asCox Plate fit for a Queen

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Soccer

Chelsea 'asked clubs to stump up £12.5million to loan Antonio Rudiger'

Chelsea ‘asked clubs interested in unwanted defender Antonio Rudiger for £12.5m to LOAN the player’ this season amid interest from PSG, Tottenham and Everton this summer

  • Chelsea were happy to let defender Antonio Rudiger leave the club on loan 
  • Paris Saint-Germain, Tottenham and Everton were all keen on the 27-year-old
  • However, the clubs reportedly baulked at Chelsea’s £12.5million loan price
  • The deal reportedly included a £5million loan fee plus his £7.5m wages covered 

Chelsea demanded a £12.5million package to let German defender Antonio Rudiger leave on loan this season, according to reports.

The centre-back was strongly linked with moves to Paris Saint-Germain, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton towards the end of the window but a move away from Stamford Bridge failed to materialise. 

Rudiger had fallen out of favour with Frank Lampard following the arrival of Thiago Silva from Paris Saint-Germain and the rise in form of Kurt Zouma in west London.

Chelsea wanted a £12.5million loan package to let Antonio Rudiger (above) leave the club

The German has fallen out of Frank Lampard (above)’s plans at Stamford Bridge this season

And according to The Athletic, the Blues asked interested clubs to pay a £5million loan fee for the German centre-back – while they also asked for his entire wages to be covered by his new club. 

The 27-year-old is currently on a £150,000-a-week contract at Chelsea, which equates to just over £7.5million-a-year. 

The report says clubs were put off by Chelsea’s steep asking price for the German centre-back, who showed defensive frailties during the back end of last season which nearly cost the Blues a place in this season’s Champions League. 

Rudiger has not featured for the Blues this season despite a call-up to the Germany team

Rudiger was heavily critcised for lapses in concentration during Chelsea’s 3-2 defeat to West Ham in July, though the Blues recovered to finish in the top-four thanks to a final day win over Wolves.

The German has yet to appear for the Blues this season and has not even made an appearance in the EFL Cup run to the quarter-finals which will take place in December. 

The defender has still kept his place in the German national team, though was part of the back line which conceded three times against Switzerland in their most recent Nations League clash. 

Rudiger was part of the Germany defence that conceded three against Switzerland last week

However, despite being out of favour at Chelsea,  Lampard has given Rudiger a lifeline and says he could work his way back in the team with some improved performances. 

Chelsea’s current preferred options at the back showed no signs of improvement themselves, as they slumped to a 3-3 draw against Southampton last weekend.

Lampard said this week:  ‘Every player can play his way into the XI, the squad. That’s in every players’ hands. 

‘The things I do are for the best of the team and the club. The players know that. 

‘The beauty of the window now being shut is we can get to work, we know what the squad is. Toni is the same as every other player on that one.’




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Racing

NASCAR reinstates Kyle Larson from suspension; driver used racial slur in April

NASCAR announced Monday that it has lifted Cup Series driver Kyle Larson’s suspension, and that he will be eligible to resume racing on Jan. 1, 2021.

Larson was banned indefinitely on April 13 for saying the N-word during a live iRacing event the previous day. Chip Ganassi Racing fired him April 14. He applied for reinstatement Friday.

“NASCAR continues to prioritize diversity and inclusion across our sport,” NASCAR said in a statement announcing Larson’s return. “Kyle Larson has fulfilled the requirements set by NASCAR, and has taken several voluntary measures, to better educate himself so that he can use his platform to help bridge the divide in our country.”

NASCAR.com reported that NASCAR and Larson agreed to a reinstatement agreement that runs through 2023. Larson will be required to continue with speaking engagements, training and classes. He will continue to work with the Urban Youth Racing School and Rev Racing as well. He previously completed sensitivity training.

Larson spoke extensively about his suspension experience Oct. 4 in an essay on his website, titled “Kyle Larson: My Lessons Learned.”

“Since April, I’ve done a lot of reflecting. I realized how little I really knew about the African-American experience in this country and racism in general,” Larson, whose mother is of Japanese descent, wrote. “Educating myself is something I should’ve done a long time ago, because it would’ve made me a better person — the kind of person who doesn’t casually throw around an awful, racist word. The kind who makes an effort to understand the hate and oppression it symbolizes and the depth of pain it has caused Black people throughout history and still to this day. It was past time for me to shut up, listen and learn.”

Larson was able to race during his NASCAR suspension; he competed in the World of Outlaws and USAC series, where he won races regularly.

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