England 2-3 Holland: Sucker punch defeats promising England

England’s bright new era started really rather well for an hour at least, but in the end Stuart Pearce’s team got a harsh football lesson from the Dutch who made them pay for their mistakes. Two goals in as many second-half minutes from the visitors seemed to have changed the completion of a game which, until that point, had been a relatively evenly-matched but they over-shadowed by serious injuries to Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, and Chris Smalling. The pair clashed heads while challenging for a Dirk Kuyt cross, from which Huntelaar scored…

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Fortune continues to favour Stuart Pearce as he juggles three international roles

There is a well-worn anecdote from Fabio Capello’s England reign that involves him asking Stuart Pearce for his opinion at half-time, as England were labouring in a European Championship qualifier against Andorra. After a scoreless first-half, Pearce suggested maintaining the status quo and moving the ball quicker. Capello responded by withdrawing Stuart Downing and Jermain Defoe, introducing Emile Heskey and Joe Cole in their place. Cole scored twice as England won 2-0. The tale was told to emphasise Capello’s ability to alter proceedings and justify him mammoth salary, but it…

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Johnson wants Liverpool Wembley return

Liverpool defender Glen Johnson has told lfc.tv he hopes to return to Wembley with his club in the near future after the Reds’ League Cup victory on Sunday. Johnson said: “ It would mean the world [to go back]. That’s what football is about – getting to finals and winning these trophies. That’s what it’s all about, that’s what we work hard for day in, day out.” The penalty shootout victory over Cardiff City confirmed Liverpool’s record-breaking eighth League Cup triumph and first since 2003, when Manchester United were defeated…

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Johnson could face Arsenal despite England withdrawal

The Liverpool Echo has reported that Liverpool right-back Glen Johnson hopes to be fit to play Arsenal on Saturday despite pulling out of England duty this week with what was described as a “minor knock”. Johnson played the full 120 minutes of Sunday’s League Cup final as Liverpool lifted the trophy on penalties after drawing 2-2 with Cardiff City after extra-time. The defender also successfully converted a penalty in the shootout, putting Liverpool 3-2 in front before Anthony Gerrard, cousin of Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, missed the decisive spot-kick. The…

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Comolli hails long-term progression of Liverpool

Damien Comolli, Liverpool’s director of football, has praised the long-term improvement of Kenny Dalglish and his squad, according to the North Wales Daily Post. Comolli said: “What you want is a progression and I think for the last 12-14 months we are showing progression everywhere on and off the pitch in terms of squad structure, the players Kenny has to choose from, the young players the academy is producing and who are coming through.” The former Tottenham Hotspur director of football joined Liverpool in December 2010 while Roy Hodgson was…

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Ferguson wary of Tottenham fixture

Sir Alex Ferguson has told Manchester United magazine Inside United that Sunday’s Premier League meeting with Tottenham Hotspur will be a “massive game”. Spurs are eight points behind the Premier League champions, meaning a win would put them within two victories of pulling level with Ferguson’s side. Third-placed Tottenham are also seven points ahead of Arsenal, who are chasing the final automatic qualification spot for next season’s Champions League. Goals from Danny Welbeck, Anderson and Wayne Rooney gave United a 3-0 win when the sides met at Old Trafford earlier…

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Tottenham linked to Ajax defender Vertonghen

ClubCall have reported that Tottenham Hotspur are lining up a move for Ajax centre-back and captain Jan Vertonghen this summer, and Spurs manager Harry Redknapp watched Vertonghen’s Ajax play Manchester United in the Europa League recently. The Dutch side eventually bowed out to the Premier League champions 3-2 on aggregate. The 24-year-old has been at Ajax throughout his career except for a season-long loan with Waalwijk of his native Belgium in 2006-07. Vertonghen was named Ajax vice-captain after Luis Suarez left Amsterdam for Liverpool in January 2011, and took the…

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FA divided over Redknapp England appointment

Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp is a divisive candidate to be the next England boss due to concerns over his experience, according to ESPNsoccernet. The 64-year-old was immediately installed as the bookmakers’ favourite to take the job when Fabio Capello resigned earlier this month. But ESPNsoccernet quote a source as saying: “The word from within the FA is that there is a split and that there are two who have expressed their uncertainty about whether Harry Redknapp is the right man for the job.” Redknapp has managed Tottenham since 2008,…

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Cech welcomes international escape from Chelsea pressure

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech is relieved to be on international duty with the Czech Republic to escape the pressure of everyday life at Stamford Bridge, according to the Daily Telegraph. Cech said: “If you have all the sort of problems in the club and the club is not doing well and you then come to an atmosphere where everyone is relaxed because you have made our target by reaching the European Championship, then the atmosphere is different and you can enjoy it.” The 29-year-old, who will captain his country against…

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Chelsea one of three clubs chasing Walter Samuel

Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are the three Premier League clubs considering a summer move for Inter defender Walter Samuel, according to the Sun. The 33-year-old is out of contract at the end of this season and his agent is quoted by the newspaper as saying: “Ideally Walter would like to come to London but he will listen to all offers. The Sun add that the Argentine would command wages of £90,000 per week. Samuel has been capped 56 times by the Argentina national side, making his last appearance in…

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Racing striker eyes Fiorentina return

In an interview with Tuttomercato youngster Khouma Babacar says he wants to return to Fiorentina before the start of next season when his loan spell with Racing Santander expires. The 18-year-old Senegalese arrived at El Sardinero on the final day of the winter transfer market and says he has found life different in Spain but is determined to make his mark in Serie A, believing he will be given more of a chance at the Stadio Artemi Franchi next season. “I have found it different in La Liga but I…

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Chelsea anger at Villas-Boas radio interview

The Daily Mail have reported that comments by Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas likening Fernando Torres to former players Andrei Shevchenko and Mateja Kezman have left the manager’s bosses unhappy. Speaking to Portuguese radio station TSF, Villas-Boas said: “We have been through the Torres situation before with Shevchenko and Kezman. We continue to work on his motivation, his specific movements on the field and his trust. There is only one atmosphere which will make him regain his trust, and that is a competitive atmosphere.” Since joining from Liverpool in a £50m…

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La Liga Headlines: Casillas nears record, Mourinho visit ignites rumours

MARCA – Ikerman: Casillas nears Van der Sar’s record of 72 clean sheets with the national side. – 92 victories with La Roja place him just two behind Thuram, the player who has won most matches with his country. – He is determined to win his second Zamora trophy with Madrid. – Dino Zoff: “Iker and Buffon are the best goalkeepers in the world.” – Mou’s lightning visit to London reignites the rumours. – Javi Mart

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Everton Club Focus – Fine form of Stracqualursi taking pressure off injured Jelavic

As Everton prepare to resume action after a rare free weekend, one player has more reason than most to welcome the Toffees’ return to competition. January signing Nikica Jelavic has played only 30 minutes of football in Everton colours since switching from Rangers and his absence has come at the worst possible personal time, coinciding with the emergence of Denis Stracqualursi as not only a capable Premier League player, but a cult hero at Goodison Park. Arriving on transfer deadline day, Jelavic had the misfortune of signing in on Merseyside…

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Liverpool plotting triple summer swoop

Liverpool owner John Henry is ready to give Kenny Dalglish a war chest to bring some of Europe’s rising stars to Anfield next season, The Mirror reports. Director of football Damien Comolli watched the Reds lift the Carling Cup on Sunday at Wembley and believes that their success has boosted the project to attract some of Europe’s best talent. The Reds are hopeful that they can reach Europe this season, which will increase their chances of attracting Lille playmaker Eden Hazard, Spain international Javi Martinez and Barcelona midfielder Seydou Keita.…

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Carragher relieved over Carling Cup victory

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher admits winning the Carling Cup lifted a huge weight off his shoulder and captain Steven Gerrard, The Mirror reports. Carragher has been at the club with Gerrard since schoolboy level and with them both now in their 30s, the pair were keen to win a trophy with the club for the first time since 2006. The Reds were triumphant in the Carling Cup final penalty shoot-out despite Gerrard missing his penalty and Carragher was relieved that the years without silverware are over. The 34 year old…

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Liverpool scouts sent to watch Xhaka again

Metro reports that Liverpool will watch Basel midfielder Granit Xhaka for Switzerland this week, as they look to sign the 19 year old in the summer transfer window. Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli was handed positive reports from scouts who watched Xhaka in the 1-0 win over Bayern Munich by the Swiss side. Comolli has now instructed them to take a second look at the Swiss international when he lines up against Argentina in midweek. Bundesliga side Hamburg have apparently made a bid for the 19 year old after…

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Egyptian test for Spanish Olympic team

The Spanish Olympic football team begins its journey on the road to London with a friendly against Egypt in the Cantabrian municipality of Torrelavega on Tuesday night. Eight months after earning qualification for the Olympic Games with victory in the European Under-21 Championship in Denmark, Luis Milla’s team face a combined Egyptian side that has also qualified for the event thanks to finishing third in the African Under-23 tournament last December. The countries have faced each other before in the Olympics when they met at the Barcelona ’92 games, Spain…

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Walker out of England squad

Kyle Walker has withdrawn from the England squad to face the Netherlands in Wednesday’s friendly, due to an ankle injury picked up in Tottenham’s 5-2 defeat at the hands of Arsenal, reports BBC Sport. Walker, 21, has broken into the senior squad this season after working his way up from the U19 and U21 squads. He made his senior debut in the 1-0 friendly victory over Spain last November, replacing Scott Parker in the 85th minute. He made his full debut in the match immediately after, the 1-0 friendly win…

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Man Utd cannot afford to drop points says Scholes

Paul Scholes has warned his Manchester United teammates to make sure they do not drop any points if they want to be champions this season, Sky Sports reports. The United midfielder came out of retirement in January to aid Sir Alex Ferguson’s side and despite already having nine Premier League titles to his name, Scholes is hungry for more. The 37 year old has chipped in with goals already this season, including the opener against Norwich on Sunday. Ryan Giggs scored a last-gasp winner for United and with City showing…

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Tottenham recall Smith as cover for injured Walker

Tottenham have moved to recall right-back Adam Smith from his loan spell at Leeds United to cover for the injured Kyle Walker, reports Sky Sports News. With Walker injuring his ankle against Arsenal and having to pull out of the England squad for the friendly against the Netherlands tomorrow, he could also be a doubt for Tottenham’s next fixture against Manchester United. With this in mind, 20-year-old Smith has been recalled from his season-long loan at Leeds United. An England U21 international, and product of Tottenham’s youth academy, Smith has…

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