Pesky virus 1-0 twenty-five thousand square feet of medical expertise

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With its 330 acres of beautifully landscaped parkland, 11 full-size outdoor pitches and one elite Desso training pitch that is an exact replica of Wembley, the National Football Centre is the ideal HQ for England's football players to prepare for matches when they are not locked away in their on-site Hilton hotel rooms playing on their Xboxes or arranging to furtively sneak in girls.

St George's Park is also the location of Perform, a bespoke sports medicine, rehabilitation and performance centre, which according to the centre's website "combines 25,000 square feet of cutting-edge technology with elite medical expertise", which seems a wee bit ironic considering today's news that the England football team will have to stay somewhere else before Friday's friendly against Chile because a stomach virus is currently sweeping through their usual digs. Well, it affected a small number of visitors.

Gareth Southgate's U-21s have already fled the NFC after various guests at the centre reported falling ill but are showing no signs of having been infected. Nevertheless, Mr Roy has been advised to keep the senior team away from Burton-on-Trent amid concerns the lurgee might decimate his squad and cause no end of unpleasantness for assorted England's footballers, the kit-men in charge of their laundry and the chambermaids who make their beds and clean their bathrooms. "This is an elite-athlete precaution for the two teams," reported the FA, upon booking alternative accommodation in the less picturesque and rural environs of Watford. "Normal operations continue for the St George's Park and hotel staff, customers and the public."

Mr Roy will be without the Manchester United pair of Danny Welbeck and Michael Carrick, who pulled out of his squad with knee-knack and achilles tendon-gah respectively, but in less troubling news, Frank Lampard will participate in Friday's ding-dong wearing the England captain's armband, a quasi-mythical piece of elastic and Velcro considered by many to be the most revered and controversial piece of fabric since the shroud of Turin. Mr Roy plans to name the Chelsea midfielder skipper to commemorate the 100th cap he won against Ukraine back in September and prior to kick-off, Lamps will also be presented with a limited edition golden cap that looks like something Snoop Dogg or one of his bling buddies might wear as a reward for reaching such a hugely impressive milestone. The Fiver hopes what promises to be a proud and memorable evening for a loyal servant won't be overshadowed by any jokes about space monkeys or the inevitable frenzied over-reaction to same.


"It was great to meet the players at the training centre and there were a few meaty tackles flying in … everyone was trying to impress" – Terry Butcher reveals how his appointment as Hibs manager has instantly turned his squad into a collection of suspensions and knack just waiting to happen.


"Chiriches out with noseknack (yesterday's Bits and Bobs)? Come on, a guy from Romania with the name Vlad? Clearly some dastardly Toonsider's doused him with holy water and the physio's currently trying to work out how to tell AVB that one of his players has turned into a pile of dust. Still, get him back in the coffin and pour the blood of a virgin over him and he'll be back on the rowing machine before you can say what cross Igor" – David Price (and no other pedantic lovers of national stereotypes).

"Maybe Gavin O'Sullivan (yesterday's Fiver letters) ought to remember the age-old adage: people in glass houses throwing stones while also having a name as fey as Gavin should probably stop throwing the aforementioned stones, especially if they're throwing the stones at someone with a fine, upstanding name such as George. It isn't the pithiest adage,admittedly, but it's oddly appropriate in this instance" – George Wright (and no other Georges).

Re: yesterday's story on Andre wisdom getting his car stuck on a "less than traditional road" in Derbyshire (yesterday's Quote of the Day) – what on earth is a less than traditional road? One not subject to Morris dancers and mock Tudor?" – Anthony Denny.

• Send your letters to And if you've nothing better to do you can also tweet the Fiver. Today's winner of our letter o'the day is: George Wright, who wins a copy of Football Manager 2014, courtesy of the very kind people at Football Manager Towers. We'll have more copies to give away next week, so if you haven't been lucky thus far, keep trying.


We keep trying to point out the utter futility of advertising an online dating service "for interesting people" in the Fiver to the naive folk who run Guardian Soulmates, but they still aren't having any of it. So here you go – sign up here to view profiles of the kind of erudite, sociable and friendly romantics who would never dream of going out with you.


Foot-knack means Portugal may be Him-less for the first leg of their World Cup playoff against Sweden.

Robin van Persie has pulled out of Holland's friendlies against Japan and Colombia due to a combination of toe-knack and groin-gah.

Man City captain Vincent Kompany faces a further eight weeks on the sidelines after he suffered a setback in his recovery from thigh-knack.

Grown man José Mourinho and grown man Jonas Olsson were reportedly involved in an argument at Stamford Bridge on Saturday that wouldn't be out of place in a playground. "You're a Mickey Mouse player," said, Mourinho. "Fcuk Off!" said Olsson.

And Bury's Gigg Lane has been renamed the JD Stadium. "This is the largest commercial deal in the club's history," said a club suit, who'll soon have to wear company-issue clothes such as yellow pumps, pink gilets and hi-top skate shoes called 'V' Grapes.


What if the Premier League had a north v south all star game? Who would win? Here's the Beautiful Games and a dozen mock-adverts for the spectacle.

Marcus Christenson dons his tin before writing this blog in defence of Nicklas Bendtner.

New Zealand are hoping it will be All White on the night as the Kiwis prepare for their World Cup play-off in Mexico on Wednesday, writes Barry Glendenning. Stat of the day: the entire New Zealand population would fit into the Estadio Azteca only 44 times.

Quiz: can you name the Golden Ball winner for every World Cup?

What has got wrong with Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham, chime Jamie Jackson and Dominic Fifield.

Proper Journalism's David Conn speaks to proper dapper Hull City owner Assem Allam about making his club into a global force.

Borat, Batman, and big trousers feature in proper cheery Vincent Tan's Gallery.

Oh, and if it's your thing, you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace.


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