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Ireland need to beat Italy on Saturday if they are to have any chance of automatic qualification from Group 8. Gavin Beech gives you his top tip and all the BestPrice betting.

Former Chelsea manager Avram Grant has returned to Portsmouth as their new director of football.

The 54-year-old Israeli was technical director at Fratton Park from June 2006 to July 2007, before leaving to become director of football at Chelsea.

He subsequently succeeded Jose Mourinho as manager at Stamford Bridge before being sacked in May 2008 in the wake of Chelsea’s Champions League defeat to Manchester United.

“I am happy to return to the best league in the world, the English league,” Grant told Israeli sports website www.one.co.il.

Grant will work in tandem with Portsmouth manager Paul Hart as the club aim to climb off the bottom of the Premier League.

The news of talks with Grant emerged as chief executive Peter Storrie moved to deny claims that Paul Hart was to be replaced as manager.

“Paul is going nowhere. He has done a tremendous job throughout and been an absolute brick,” Storrie told The News. “Now people are starting to see what a shrewd manager he really is. Tactically he is getting it right and is nurturing the team. I think everyone involved in the club saw the victory against Wolves coming.

“People can construe it how they like – the fact is he (Grant) has been brought in as a director of football and that has been made abundantly clear. He will work with Paul and do exactly the same as what he did with Harry. He will be involved in the coaching. Paul selects the team but he is missing an experienced man alongside him at the moment.”

England and Portsmouth goalkeeper David James said the move was a welcome step in the right direction for the club.

“I love Avram, he’s a great guy,” said James.

“When I first joined the club he was there and he was very active in preparation for matches. He’s a very wise man and his football knowledge is immense.

“It’s a very good move.”

Ireland need to beat Italy on Saturday if they are to have any chance of automatic qualification from Group 8. Gavin Beech gives you his top tip and all the BestPrice betting.

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