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England's Mission Revenge in SA

England will launch a bid for Test revenge over South Africa next December at SuperSport Park in the Highveld town of Centurion.

The showdown heralds the start of a four-Test series that continues until mid-January and takes the visitors to Kingsmead in Durban, Newlands in Cape Town and the Wanderers in Johannesburg.

Graham Smith-inspired South Africa edged hosts England 2-1 in another four-Test series last year before coming unstuck in an ODI series they lost 4-0 with one fixture washed out.

The appeal of the next series will be heightened by a fierce rivalry between prolific run-getter Smith, who recently led his country to a 2-1 series triumph in Australia, and South Africa-born England batting star Kevin Pietersen.

While Smith was hailed as a hero after back-to-back victories in Perth and Melbourne, Pietersen lost the England captaincy following a power struggle with coach Peter Moores.

Pietersen wanted Moores removed and the outcome was both lost out although the Durban-reared batsman has pledged his loyalty to new captain Andrew Strauss and both are touring the West Indies.

England arrive in South Africa on November 7 and play a 20-over day-night match against South Africa A in the central city of Bloemfontein three days later.

Then come two Twenty20 internationals followed by a 50-over warm-up against South Africa A ahead of five ODIs that take the tourists to Johannesburg, Centurion, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban.

A couple of two-day games against South Africa selections in East London precede the Test series and England Cricket managing director Hugh Morris is happy with the itinerary.

"We are grateful to colleagues and friends in South Africa who have worked with us to provide what we believe is an exciting and well-balanced tour," he said in a statement.

John Terry out of FA Cup tie

John Terry has been ruled out of Chelsea's FA Cup tie against Ipswich on Saturday after the latest in a long line of back injuries.

The Chelsea and England captain suffered a spasm in his back during the warm-up for last Saturday's league match against Stoke and what was initially thought to be a minor problem has lingered.

John Mikel Obi will also miss the fourth round match, the Nigerian midfielder being suspended, but Didier Drogba is back in Luiz Felipe Scolari's squad after being dropped for Chelsea's last two matches.

Barca look for revenge

Barcelona, having established a huge 12-point lead over Real Madrid and Sevilla, on Saturday will attempt revenge on little Numancia, the only team to have beaten them in the Spanish League this season.

The promoted side, who caused an opening day upset with a 1-0 win, are fourth from bottom, but are dreaming of an unlikely double over Barcelona who have won 16 games and drawn two since that shock defeat.

"After losing to Numancia I never imagined we'd have a first half of the season like this," admitted Barcelona captain Carles Puyol whose side have created a record 50 points for the midway point of the season.

Coach Pep Guardiola has been a revelation since taking over the reins from Frank Rijkaard, winning 25 of his first 31 games in charge - better even than the legendary Johan Cruyff.

Real Madrid have won the league title the past two seasons but overhauling Barcelona's lead is some task and they need to continue winning starting with Sunday's home match against Deportivo La Coruna.

"If Barcelona continue like this then it will be very difficult for us. However, I think they will have a dip in form and we have to be ready to cut the gap," said Real's Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain.

Deportivo lost 5-0 to Barcelona last time out, but defeated Real 2-1 on the opening day of the campaign at the Riazor Stadium.

Real have won their last four games under Juande Ramos and should be well rested having not had any cup commitments in midweek.

Sevilla are also 12 points behind Barcelona and host Racing Santander on Sunday trying to keep up their league momentum.

Sevilla lost 3-2 at Valencia in their Kings Cup first leg match on Wednesday but are a much stronger side at their intimidating Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium.

Valencia are four points behind Sevilla in fourth place going into Sunday's match at Real Mallorca.

Atletico Madrid and their coach Javier Aguirre are having a difficult time at the moment and on Sunday travel to in-form Malaga who have won four out of their last five league outings.

Malaga won promotion last season and have been the surprise package this season lying level on points with Atletico.

Espanyol, third from bottom and five points from safety, sacked coach 'Mane' following a poor run of results and their third coach of a testing season is a former player in Mauricio Pochettino.

Argentine Pochettino, 36, got a 0-0 draw with Barcelona in the cup on his debut and his league bow is a trip to Valladolid on Sunday.