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Under threat: the sport with a long history, and growing problems

Is one of the most popular sports in the North West under threat from housing developments? Bowling green clubs say they're suffering because of private landlords selling to developers as well as a lack of council funding.

Will Straw, Labour Party candidate for Rossendale and Darwen, invited John Woodcock to the constituency to help highlight the problem. The Labour MP Barrow has been campaigning for three years to help 'Save Our Bowling Greens' across the region.

Our reporter Daniel Hewitt has been to one club caught in the middle of a land row as their old green lies derelict.

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Everton's Europa League Fixtures

Everton face a tough test in Group H of the Europa League.

They've been drawn with French side Lille, Germany's Wolfsburg and Russian club Krasnodar.

Here's when they'll play,

Everton v Wolfsburg, Thursday 18 September, 8.05pm

FC Krasnodar v Everton, Thursday 2 October, 5pm

Lille v Everton, Thursday 23 October, 6pm

Everton v Lille, Thursday 6 November, 8.05pm

Wolfsburg v Everton, Thursday 27 November, 6pm

Everton v FC Krasnodar, Thursday 11 December, 8.05pm

Everton find out who they're facing in Europa League

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We have been drawn in Group H alongside Lille, Wolfsburg and one more team to be drawn. Thoughts?#UELdraw #EFC

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Our final Group H opponents are Krasnodar. We will face Lille, Wolfsburg and the Russian side in the Europa League group stage. #EFC

Fitness test for Everton pair

Everton's new signing Samuel Eto'o
Everton's new signing Samuel Eto'o Credit: PA

Everton will assess the fitness of two former Chelsea strikers, Samuel Eto'o and Romelu Lukaku, prior to the Londoners' visit to Goodison Park in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday.

Eto'o has been short of match fitness, having only joined the club this week, while Lukaku has had a toe injury.

Provisional squad: Howard, Robles, Coleman, Hibbert, Distin, Jagielka, Stones, Baines, Alcaraz, Barry, McCarthy, Osman, McGeady, Besic, Naismith, Mirallas, Lukaku, Eto'o.

Romelu Lukaku, Everton
Romelu Lukaku, Everton Credit: PA

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Vokes still out for Burnley

Sean Dyche expects striker Sam Vokes to once again be Burnley's only absentee when Manchester United visit Turf Moor.

Wales international Vokes has a long-term knee problem but was back doing some running on the grass at the Clarets' training ground this week.

Dyche will likely recall a number of players who were rested in the Capital One Cup defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in midweek, including goalkeeper Tom Heaton, long-serving defender Michael Duff and striker Danny Ings.

Provisional squad: Heaton, Trippier, Ward, Duff, Shackell, Mee, Wallace, Marney, Ings, Kightly, Jones, Taylor, Sordell, Reid, Jutkiewicz, Gilks, Long, Barnes, Hewitt, Arfield.

Flintoff pleads 'hardship' to escape driving ban

Andrew Flintoff
Andrew Flintoff Credit: PA

Cricketer Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff has escaped a driving ban for speeding in his Bentley in Cumbria after arguing "exceptional hardship" to magistrates.

Flintoff, 36, was already on nine points for speeding and in danger of an automatic ban with another three points after admitting being behind the wheel when flashed by a camera doing 87mph on the M6, near Linstock on January 28 this year, Carlisle Magistrates' Court heard.

But JPs accepted a ban would amount to exceptional hardship because of the effect on others who rely on his extensive charity work and the privacy of his three children.

Andrew Flintoff
Andrew Flintoff Credit: PA

Instead, the former England cricket captain, caught speeding four times in the last three years, was given the three points on his licence and fined £330 but allowed to keep driving. His solicitor Michael Neofytou, told the court a ban would also affect his TV work - with the defendant due to be filming a show in Northern Ireland, a "road trip" where he drives a fish and chips van powered by the van's cooking fat.

Flintoff, of Mottram St Andrew, Cheshire, sat listening to his solicitor outline his case for most of the 45 minute hearing.

He was warned after arguing exceptional hardship he would not be able to use the same reasons again in court if he was caught speeding again in the next three years.

National

Hodgson praises Rooney's 'commitment to cause'

Roy Hodgson says Wayne Rooney's "commitment to the cause", along with his experience captaining Manchester United contributed to the decision to make him the new England captain.

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Roy: Wayne Rooney deserves England armband - his commitment to the cause, his captaincy at Man Utd all played a part in my decision

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