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Steve Zakuani out 6-8 weeks after sports hernia surgery

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Although his latest ailment is completely unrelated to the leg injury that cost Steve Zakuani much of the last two seasons, today’s news represents another roadblock between 25-year-old and his former, elite MLS winger-status.

On Tuesday, Zakuani underwent surgery in Philadelphia for a sports hernia. Read the details from Joshua Mayers and the Seattle Times here. The bottom line: Recovery time will cost the Seattle Sounders attacker the next 6-8 weeks of the season.

It’s not like Zakuani’s season was going swimmingly before this injury. In six games (468 minutes), Zakuani’s failed to score. No shame in that (it’s not like he’s a striker), but with one assist and only two shots on goal, Zakuani’s stats fairly reflect his slow start.

This was supposed to be Zakuani’s big comeback season, and perhaps that can still happen. But after missing almost all of 2011 while spending the last half of 2012 returning to full fitness, Zakuani’s preseason spirits were high.

Finishing the season by tearing up Sean Franklin in the second leg of the conference finals, Zakuani had a proof of concept in place. There were no lingering doubts. There was almost no concern about whether he could return to form. Zakuani was expected to be the Sounders’ regular left winger.

But then he got caught up in the Sounders’ slow start. Then there was illness. Now there’s this minor surgery.

None of it’s major stuff. They’re not even real setbacks. It’s just a collection of annoyances that preventing this Zakuani story from coming full circle.

Now there’s the danger of one annoyance leading to another. With Seattle surging, how difficult will it be for Zakuani to earn his spot back when he returns? Obafemi Martins and Eddie Johnson are inked up top. Lamar Neagle seems the best bet to play wide, Zakuani’s spot. But tied for the team lead in goals (four), is Neagle going to give way to Zakuani?

We’ll find out in two months.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.