England announces 27 man squad for World Cup Qualifiers: Ross Barkley and Andros Townsend handed first senior call-ups

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Roy Hodgson has handed Ross Barkley, Andros Townsend and Fraser Forster their first England senior call-ups after announcing a 27 man squad for England’s upcoming World Cup Qualifiers against Moldova and the Ukraine.

The 19 year old Barkley has been rewarded for his impressive start to the Premier League season that included a 23 yard rocket of a goal in the 2-2 draw against Norwich City in the season opener. Joining Barkley are Everton teammates Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines.

Townsend flew onto the Three Lions’ radar this past Sunday after he marauded his way to a sensational performance in Spurs’ 1-0 victory over Swansea City. The 22 year old gave left-back Ben Davies a difficult match but was an absolute nightmare for Jonjo Shelvey, who was whistled for taking down Townsend in the box resulting in Roberto Soldado’s penalty. Tottenham teammates Kyle Walker and Jermain Defoe have also been named to the squad.

Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster was also called into the squad for the first time, replacing West Bromwich Albion’s Ben Foster, who is out for three months after suffering an injury against Everton last Saturday.  

Other notables included in Hodgson’s team are Rickie Lambert, who kept his spot after impressing in his debut with England two weeks ago when he scored the game-winner in the 3-2 victory over Scotland, and Daniel Sturridge, who rejoins the squad after missing the Scotland game through injury.

Hodgson made some slightly controversial decisions as well, calling in four players who have thus far made a combined three substitute appearances in the Premier League: Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling, Manchester United’s Chris Smalling and Ashley Young and Manchester City’s James Milner.

Notable exclusions include Aston Villa’s Gabriel Agbonlahor, Tottenham’s Michael Dawson, Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson and Cardiff City’s Frazier Campbell. Check out the entire list below.

Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Celtic), Joe Hart (Manchester City), John Ruddy (Norwich City).

Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur).

Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Everton), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Tom Cleverley (Manchester United), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Manchester City), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Andros Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal).

Forwards: Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur), Rickie Lambert (Southampton), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United), Ashley Young (Manchester United).

Defoe walks out Bradley Lowery, scores in England win

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Jermain Defoe’s friendship with terminally-ill Bradley Lowery has been special to watch unfold, and the Sunderland striker brought his little buddy to Wembley today.

Then he notched a match-winner.

Lowery walked Defoe out onto the field in a replica England kit before Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania, and then Defoe scored his 20th goal for country.

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It was his first since 2013, the last year Defoe was called up for the Three Lions.

Here’s the goal, which was followed by a second-half Jamie Vardy tally as England stayed atop Group F with a 2-0 win over Lithuania.

Two Russian soccer fans stabbed in Serbia

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) Two Russian fans have been hospitalized with serious injuries after being stabbed following a friendly soccer match between Red Star Belgrade and Lokomotiv Moscow.

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said Sunday police were looking for the knife-wielding perpetrators who attacked a group of Lokomotiv fans in downtown Belgrade late Saturday.

Serbian media reports said the Russian fans were attacked by supporters of Red Star’s rival Partizan Belgrade.

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The match, which Red Star won 2-1, was meant to promote Serbia’s traditional friendship with Russia.

Stefanovic says “nobody should think they could hurt the Serbian-Russian friendship” with such attacks.

Serbia has seen a surge of fan violence inside and outside stadiums. In 2009, a French football fan was fatally beaten in Belgrade.

VIDEO: Gerrard’s juggle and finish leads Liverpool legends past Real Madrid

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Scoring at Anfield doesn’t get old, especially when your name is Steven Gerrard.

The English midfielder was playing in a friendly match between Liverpool and Real Madrid “legends” on Sunday, when he delivered this tasty goal (and assists to Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, and John Aldridge).

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Gerrard redirects a cross over a lunging defender and into a place where he can lash a goal home to put the Reds up 4-0. He dedicated his Man of the Match performance to club legend Ronnie Moran, who died earlier this week.

Real’s comeback came up just short in a 4-3 final, with Fernando Morientes, Ruben de la Red, and Edwin Congo scoring for the visitors.

On a Sunday waiting for the international matches to begin, Gerrard supplies a nice highlight for the rest of us (Extended highlights free on Liverpool’s site).

Ozil bristles at talk of Arsenal selling him

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Mesut Ozil is on international break, and bristling at reports that Arsenal is going to sell him.

The midfielder’s absence from the lineup last week had plenty speculating on his future, even more than usual. His contract expires in 2018, and several reports claimed he’d join Alexis Sanchez as players destined for elsewhere.

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Ozil was not called up by Germany, and has missed four of his last nine Premier League matches. Three of those were for illness, and he missed last week’s loss to West Brom with a hamstring injury.

From Metro:

“And you think Wenger tells the journalist before he tells me? Then I know him differently,” Ozil told German outlet Welt.

“I have a contract until 2018 in London and I feel very comfortable there. We’ll talk soon and then make a decision.”

Metro notes that Ozil also said he wants to win the Champions League, something that can only happen with Arsenal remaining in the Top Four. We suppose you could make snarky inferences from his “comfortable in London” phrasing, but we’ll leave it there.