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Supermarket giant Asda has been hit with the biggest sales decline in its history, as like-for-like sales decreased by 7.5%.Walmart International CEO David Cheesewright singled out Asda’s eight consecutive quarterly decline as “very disappointing” and reiterated a poor performance throughout June.This coincided with supermarket sales dropping below £100bn for the first time since 2010 as the price war continued in the UK grocery sector.Walmart Stores CEO Doug McMillon commented: “Our strategy to turn things around is focused on improving the retail basics. We are simplifying and strengthening our offering through improved availability and assortment discipline, reducing costs and driving sales through strategic price investments.”He added: “While our turnaround will take time, I’m confident in the new leadership team there and want to assure you we’re addressing this with urgency.”Cheesewright had suggested a move to “shift the balance from protecting profit to protecting share” that could have triggered the start of the price war, but the company made no mention of a change in strategy.In July, bosses from Sainsbury’s suggested that starting a price war would not be a logical step for rival retailer Asda. read more
Everton midfielder Ross Barkley is close to a return from injury but manager Roberto Martinez has sounded a note of caution to England Under-21 boss Gareth Southgate over his availability next summer. “Ross is coming back from an injury so he hasn’t played much football,” he said. “If the tournament was now it would be a good opportunity for Ross to get some playing time but if it is at the end of a season where he has played consistently for 10 months then he needs to have a break.” Martinez does not believe the growing clamour for young players to gain tournament experience is right despite calls for the likes of Barkley, Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling and Arsenal Jack Wilshere, Calum Chambers and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to be parachuted back into the junior ranks. And as most of those players mentioned have already been to a World Cup with the senior side he believes it will be a demotion for them to go back to the under-21s. “We keep talking about players who need to make tournaments but I think we need to start creating a way of playing and that way of playing will demand one player or another,” he said. “It is not because bringing so many good names together will give you a chance of being successful. “What would be the under-21s’ objective – (is it) to get players into the senior side because if players are already in the senior side what would be the motivation for a player to go into the under-21s? “Sometimes we speak too much about individual names. You need to look into it on an individual case; players who have played too much football, the needs of the team more importantly. “I am sure the under-21 national manager (Gareth Southgate) has answers for that. “Everyone is honoured to represent their country and the players will always do as they are told by the national teams and that is the way it should be.” Barkley returned to full training with the squad on Monday and could possibly play against Aston Villa on Saturday. “He is really close. He came back on Monday and has reacted extremely well,” said the Toffees boss. “Sometimes you forget what a sensational footballer he is and when you see him a full flow you realise he is infectious around the place. “He is desperate to play and his work this week has been very good. It is too early to tell whether he will be involved on Saturday but I don’t see him to be too far away from it.” Another looking to regain his place is defender Sylvain Distin, who has not played since the 3-0 Capital One Cup defeat to Swansea on September 23. Rumours of a fall-out have circulated in his continued absence from the team but Martinez said the centre-back had a dead leg – although he admitted the Frenchman could have played in two of the three matches he has sat out. “You will always get rumours but the reality was that he picked up a knock after the Swansea game and obviously at that period I considered it was right for him to have a bit of break and rejuvenate,” said the manager. “Sometimes he is such a professional he works too hard. He is someone who is not just happy with what he does with the team, he has his individual programmes and he works too much. “I felt that he needed a bit of a break but now he has come back refreshed and ready to fight for his place. “He could have played the last game against Manchester United and maybe Krasnodar, but the little knock that he had stopped him from being available for Liverpool and from that point on it was just making sure he could recover. “Sylvain is training well and is fully refreshed and is ready to fight for his place.” The 20-year-old, who has yet to feature after sustaining knee ligament damage on the eve of the campaign, is already being touted for a recall to the under-21s to bolster their squad for the 2015 European Championships. It is not an idea Martinez appears that keen on. Press Association read more