Declan Rice switches international allegiance to England from Ireland

West Ham midfielder Declan Rice has pledged his international future to England. Rice, 20, has won three senior Republic of Ireland caps, all in friendlies, having played for his grandparents’ country since under-16 level. In August the Londoner said he needed time to decide his future, as winning a competitive cap for the Republic would have tied him to the country. pic.twitter.com/L6Du9X8wNd — Declan Rice (@_DeclanRice) February 13, 2019 “This has been an extremely difficult decision,” he said. Rice, who has made 59 appearances for West Ham, has excelled this…

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Dejan Lovren handed one match international ban

Dejan Lovren has been banned for one international match over comments he made on social media about opponents Spain following his side’s 3-2 Nations League win in November. Lovren posted a video on Instagram where he appeared to brag about elbowing Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos and made insulting comments about the Spain team following the game on March 15. He also told reporters after the match that Spain were “rude on the pitch” and bad losers. Uefa said that Lovren had fallen foul of a clause in its disciplinary…

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Mohamed Salah once again named African Footballer of the Year

Mohamed Salah has been named African Footballer of the Year for a second successive year. Salah beat fellow nominees, his Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mané and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, at the Confederation of African Football’s awards ceremony in Dakar on Tuesday. The Egypt forward edged the same two players last year in a vote decided by the technical directors and head coaches of 56 Caf member associations. “This award is very big for me, I love it because I saw it when I was young and I always had a dream to win it one…

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Egypt beats out South Africa to earn AFCON 2019 hosting rights

Egypt will host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, the Confederation of African Football (Caf) has announced. Egypt beat South Africa, the only other nation to bid, by 16 votes to one with one abstention at a Caf executive committee vote in Senegal. Original host nation Cameroon was stripped of staging duties in November because of slow preparations. Egypt has just six months to prepare for the expanded 24-team finals, which kick off in June. It will be the fifth time Egypt, which won the tournament when it last hosted…

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Tata Martino named Mexico national team manager

Mexico got its man, announcing on Monday it has hired Gerardo “Tata” Martino to manage the men’s national team. The length of the deal is yet to be announced, though the Mexican federation stated that Martino will be the man to lead El Tri “on the way to Qatar 2022”. Martino takes over a team that has been remarkably consistent in recent history. El Tri have qualified for the last seven World Cups and been eliminated at the round of 16 stage of each of them. That has set off…

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FA chief executive Martin Glenn to leave at end of the season

Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn will step down at the end of the 2018-19 season after four years in the role. The FA said he was leaving having “delivered much of what he came to do”. In a statement the FA credited him with creating the “culture around St George’s Park and the England teams which has led to an unprecedented period of success”. Glenn said it had been a “huge honour and a privilege” to lead the FA. “I will leave feeling proud of the success of the…

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England drawn to face Netherlands in Nations League semi-final

England will play the Netherlands in the semi-final of the Uefa Nations League on 6 June 2019 at Estadio D Afonso Henriques in Guimaraes. Hosts Portugal face Switzerland on 5 June at Porto’s Estadio do Dragao. The final will be played on 9 June in Porto, with the third-place play-off game taking place the same day. Uefa confirmed Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology will be used in the competition. The winner of the tournament will receive £6.67m in prize money while the fourth-placed nation will earn around £4m. Gareth Southgate’s side…

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Robbie Keane announces retirement from football

Republic of Ireland’s record goalscorer Robbie Keane has officially confirmed he has hung up his boots days after being unveiled as part of Mick McCarthy’s management team. The 38-year-old netted 68 goals in 146 appearances for the Boys in Green and enjoyed a decorated career that included spells at Wolves, Coventry City, Inter Milan, Leeds United, Tottenham Hotspur (twice), Liverpool, Celtic, West Ham, LA Galaxy, Aston Villa and most recently, ATK in India. In a prolific club career, Keane scored 325 goals in 737 club appearances. The Dubliner was confirmed as…

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Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane leave Ireland roles by mutual consent

Manager Martin O’Neill and his assistant Roy Keane have parted company with the Republic of Ireland. The pair took over the reins in 2013 and arguably the most successful period of his time in charge was in 2016, when he guided the Republic to the last 16 of the European Championships. That competition saw them go through their group with a draw against Sweden and a historic win over Italy, before losing 2-1 to a strong France team in the last 16. However, they did not win a competitive game…

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Luis Suarez urges Ousmane Dembele to be ‘more responsible’

Luis Suarez has said Barcelona teammate Ousmane Dembele should be “more responsible” after he reportedly missed training following a marathon nocturnal video gaming session. Dembele was dropped by the Spanish champions for last week’s shock 4-3 home defeat to Real Betis following what coach Ernesto Valverde called a “sporting assessment”. But sports daily AS reports that the Catalans are worried not only that he might be addicted to gaming, but also that it might ruin his career at the club. And Suarez, no stranger to disciplinary issues himself, says that…

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Gareth Southgate says England have improved since World Cup

Gareth Southgate believes England are a better side than they were when they faced Sunday’s Nations League opponents Croatia at this summer’s World Cup. The two meet at Wembley, four months on from Croatia’s semi-final win in Russia, in a game that will settle both promotion and relegation from Group A4. The winner will top the group and seal a place in the last four, with the loser dropping to the second tier. “We’ve learned with every experience that we’ve had,” said Southgate. “We’ve added more depth to the squad…

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Some ex-players bitter about England’s success, says Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney says some ex-England internationals are struggling to embrace the current side’s success under Gareth Southgate. Rooney’s record-breaking international career finally came to an end on Thursday with his 120th cap against the U.S. national team at Wembley. The DC United striker was a member of England’s much-vaunted ‘golden generation’, who were often criticised for failing to live up to their reputation at major tournaments. Rooney insists he has no bitterness about how his international career panned out, but says it’s a different situation for some of his international teammates.…

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Barcelona confirm Ivan Rakitic hamstring injury

Barcelona have confirmed Ivan Rakitic has been diagnosed with a hamstring injury. Rakitic was substituted midway through the second half of Croatia’s 3-2 Nations League win against Spain, in which Tin Jedvaj scored a late winner. Coach Zlatko Dalic subsequently confirmed Rakitic would not travel with Croatia to London for Sunday’s decisive clash with England. And Barcelona announced on Saturday scans have found Rakitic has a hamstring injury in his right leg, with no timescale given for his recovery. ❗ [INJURY NEWS] @ivanrakitic has a hamstring strain in his right leg. His return…

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Germany without Julian Draxler for Netherlands clash

Germany have Julian Draxler will not join their squad for their Nations League game against the Netherlands on Monday in Gelsenkirchen. Draxler had been included by coach Joachim Low but missed their friendly win over Russia as he was granted compassionate leave. Germany’s relegation from League A was confirmed on Friday as Netherlands won 2-0 at home against world champions France. Nations League relegation rounds off an atrocious year for Low’s Germany, who flopped badly at Russia 2018 with a dire World Cup title defence. Nice to have @woodyinho back in team training…

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Paul Gascoigne charged with sexual assault over August train incident

Former England footballer Paul Gascoigne has been charged with sexually assaulting a woman on a train. The 51-year-old is alleged to have committed to offence on a service from York to Durham on 20 August, British Transport Police said. He was arrested at Durham Station and later charged with one count of sexual assault by touching. “A man is due to appear in court next month charged in connection with the sexual assault of a woman on board a train from York to Durham,” a spokesman for the force said. “Paul Gascoigne was charged via postal…

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Wayne Rooney to return to England squad for friendly match against USA

Wayne Rooney is set to come out of international retirement to make a farewell appearance for England against the United States later this month. The 33-year-old – England’s record goalscorer with 53 – has not played for the Three Lions since a 3-0 victory over Scotland in November 2016. But Rooney, who plays for DC United, is expected to earn his 120th cap in the friendly at Wembley on 15 November. The match will be called ‘The Wayne Rooney Foundation international’. The Wembley Arch will be lit up in the…

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World Cup expansion to 48 teams could happen in 2022, says Fifa

The expansion of the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams could be brought forward from 2026 to 2022, says Fifa president Gianni Infantino. The change would require Qatar to share 2022 hosting duties with other countries in the region. The decision has already been taken to expand the tournament in 2026, when it will be held in the USA, Canada and Mexico, and Infantino is now considering doing the same for 2022. “If it is possible, why not?” he said. “We have to see if it is possible, if it…

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‘Germany needs Ozil’ – Wenger hopes playmaker makes international return

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hopes Mesut Ozil can be convinced to return to the Germany team after his retirement following the World Cup. Ozil cited the “treatment he received from the DFB” in his statement following the tournament, in which Germany flopped. Joachim Low’s team were unable to qualify from their group, and suffered humiliating defeats to Mexico and South Korea in Russia. Their poor form has only continued after the Russian showpiece, losing to both the Netherlands – who did not qualify for the World Cup – and world…

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Laurent Koscielny criticises Deschamps and retires from international football

France and Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny has retired from international duty after criticising manager Didier Deschamps for his treatment while recovering from injury. The defender ruptured an Achilles in the Europa League semi-final in May and missed out on France’s World Cup-winning campaign in Russia. Koscielny, 33, said “lots of people disappointed him” during his lay-off. “It feels like a hit on the back of the head,” he said. “When you are in good form, you have lots of friends. When you are injured… after a certain period of time,…

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Gareth Bale out of Wales friendly with Spain, doubtful for Ireland clash

Gareth Bale is out of Wales’ friendly against Spain on Thursday and is “50-50” for the Nations League match with the Republic of Ireland on 16 October. The 29-year-old forward was replaced in the 80th minute of Real Madrid’s 1-0 La Liga loss at Alaves on Saturday. “Gareth has got a little bit of muscle fatigue and he won’t be involved against Spain,” Wales manager Ryan Giggs confirmed. “We don’t want to take any risks and we are monitoring it every day.” Bale sat out training with the Wales squad…

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Thierry Henry on manager shortlist to replace Leonardo Jardim at Monaco

Former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry is being considered as a replacement for manager Leonardo Jardim at Monaco. The French club are expected to sack their Portuguese boss, 44, with the team third from bottom in Ligue 1 with six points from nine games. Henry, 41, who is on the shortlist for a similar role at Aston Villa, began his professional career at Monaco and helped them win Ligue 1 in 1997. Jardim led the club to another French title in 2017, their first since 2000. The former Sporting Lisbon manager…

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Christian Eriksen could have chronic abdominal problem, says Hareide

Denmark manager Åge Hareide has suggested that Christian Eriksen’s stomach problem could be a chronic condition in what would be a major blow to an already injury-hit Tottenham Hotspur squad. The 26-year-old has not played since his club’s 2-1 Premier League win at Brighton on 22 September. Spurs had expected Eriksen to return after the international break this week but Hareide said it was unlikely the midfielder would travel for the Nations League match against Ireland on Saturday. “Christian has an abdominal problem … Such an injury can be chronic,…

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Dutch manager Koeman criticises Liverpool’s Van Dijk for being ‘too laid back’

Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk has come under fire from current Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman for being ‘too laid back’. Van Dijk moved to Anfield in a £75million deal from Southampton in January, and almost cost his side when he conceded a late penalty against Manchester City on Sunday. In addition, the Dutchman made an error against France last month which allowed Olivier Giroud to net in a 2-1 defeat for Holland. Now, former Everton boss Koeman, who also managed the defender during their time together at Southampton, has told…

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Borussia Dortmund teenager Jadon Sancho gets England squad call

Borussia Dortmund teenager Jadon Sancho was a surprise selection when England manager Gareth Southgate named a 25-man squad on Thursday for this month’s Nations League matches away to Croatia and Spain. Mason Mount and James Maddison were also given their first senior England call-ups by Southgate as it was announced that the 48-year-old had signed a new contract that will keep him with the national side until the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The 18-year-old Sancho was called up having already played in the Champions League for German club Dortmund, with…

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Maradona urges Lionel Messi to quit Argentina and ‘send them to hell’

Diego Maradona has advised Lionel Messi to walk away from the Argentina national team and send everyone “to hell.” Messi has been omitted from the last two Argentina squads in the wake of a fraught World Cup campaign and doubt surrounds the Barcelona star’s international future. Argentina icon and former coach Maradona was asked what advice he would give Messi. “What would I tell Messi? To not come back any more. To retire,” Maradona told Clarin. “The Under-15s lose and it is Messi’s fault, the fixture list in Argentina puts…

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