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Published:Friday | September 12, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Six England players get central contracts

LONDON (AP): Six players have been awarded central contracts by England for the first time, indicating the scale of the upheaval in the national team since the Ashes whitewash by Australia around the turn of the year.

Moeen Ali, Gary Ballance, Jos Buttler, Chris Jordan, Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes were among 12 players to be given 12-month deals in an announcement by England yesterday.

National selector James Whitaker says "we have been hugely encouraged by the rapid development of a host of younger players in the last year."

England have been rebuilding since the Australia tour, with Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Graeme Swann among the big names no longer playing internationally. Allrounder Tim Bresnan was one of five players not retained on a central contract.

Serbia expect to beat India

BANGALORE, India (AP):Even without Novak Djokovic on the court, Serbia captain Bogdan Obradovic is expecting a win when his team plays India in the Davis Cup playoffs.

Djokovic opted out of the best-of-five series due to fatigue.

"It does not matter who is playing," Obradovic said yesterday. "The team needs to be prepared and has to play point by point, set by set and that's all that matters."

Serbia are also without the injured Janko Tipsarevic, leaving 61st-ranked Dusan Lajovic to play the opening singles match against 153rd-ranked Yuki Bhambri. Filip Krajinovic will take on Somdev Devvarman in today's other singles match.

Tomorrow's doubles will feature Indian duo Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna against Nenad Zimonjic and Ilijua Bozoljac.

Falcao wants to stay

MANCHESTER, England (AP):Radamel Falcao says he wants to play for Manchester United "for many years", after joining on a season-long loan from Monaco.

United are the Colombia striker's fifth club in as many years, having left River Plate in 2009 to join FC Porto before moving to Atletico Madrid two years later.

For Falcao, those teams were stepping stones ahead of a move to a major European club like United.

Falcao, who was presented as a United player yesterday, said "when I was in Porto, Atletico Madrid, I always wanted to improve and dream of playing in a team like this, and now I want to stay here for many years."

United have the option of signing Falcao - for a reported £44 million (US$71 million) - next year.