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Bereaved Defoe leaves England squad

KRAKOW, Poland, June 7 – England striker Jermain Defoe has flown home from the squad’s Euro 2012 training camp in Krakow following the death of his father, the Football Association confirmed Thursday.

Tottenham star Defoe, who only touched down in Poland with his England team-mates on Wednesday, will rejoin the squad at an unspecified date, the FA said in a brief statement.

“England striker Jermain Defoe has returned home to England this morning following the passing of his father overnight,” the FA said.

“Jermain will re-join the England Euro squad in due course. There will be no replacement player called in.

“We would ask all media to respect Jermain and his family’s privacy at this difficult time.”

Defoe is regarded as England’s reserve striker, with Danny Welbeck and Andy Carroll vying for a starting berth against France next Monday in Group D in the absence of the suspended Wayne Rooney.

Injured French duo making great progress

Yann Mvila and Blaise Matuidi were both making great progress in recovering from injuries but were still not match fit said France coach Laurent Blanc on Thursday.

France open their Euro 2012 campaign against England on Monday and both the midfielders are struggling to be fit in time with Mvila suffering from an ankle injury and Matuidi a thigh problem.

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“Their fitness is coming on leaps and bounds,” said Blanc.

“Every day, there is a better prognosis. For the moment they are not yet able to play in a game or join in team training.

“But I think that we are ahead of schedule with their return to fitness.

“We hope they are going to continue to improve at the same pace, that we could gain two or three days, it could be interesting (for team selection).”

Blanc also had positive news about another midfielder Alou Diarra, who felt a twinge in his hamstring in the first minute of the 4-0 win over Estonia on Tuesday.

“It was more a scare than anything bad,” said Blanc.

Berlin highway opens ahead of Euros

A new highway linking Berlin and Warsaw opened overnight Wednesday to Thursday, just a day before the Polish capital kicks off the Euro 2012 football tournament, officials said.

“From today drivers can use the A2 motorway in its entirety, including fans arriving for the European Championships,” a spokeswoman for the GDDKiA road operator, Urszula Nalken, was quoted as saying by the PAP news agency.

The construction of the last stretch of the A2 road was delayed after the China Overseas Engineering Group (COVEC) pulled out of the project last year.

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The final 50 kilometres (30 miles) were finished by the Czech Bogl a Krysl and the French Eurovia groups.

Poland has been trying to modernise its Communist-era road infrastructure ahead of the tournament, which it is co-hosting with neighbouring Ukraine.

The championship opens in Warsaw on Friday with the match between Poland and Greece, with the final scheduled for July 1 in Kiev.

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