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Jermaine Jones’ best bet for quick recovery is knee surgery now, not later

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When it comes to repairing torn meniscuses, the sooner a player has surgery, the sooner he will be back on the field. It’s a relatively minor procedure with a short convalescence.

To wit: had United States and Schalke midfielder Jermaine Jones gone under the knife two weeks ago, when reports of his inevitable surgery surfaced in German media, he would already be one-third of the way back to 100 percent. Depending how extensive the necessary surgery is, he could only miss 10 days before returning to training.

The meniscus stabilizes the knee joint and acts as a cushioning pad between bones in the leg. Depending on the location and severity of the tear, arthroscopic surgery is performed to either suture the cartilage back together or remove the affected piece.

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Depending on the location and severity of meniscus tears, they are usually treated with minor surgery — or no surgery at all — and require only a short recovery period.

Snipping reduces recovery time, but it doesn’t provide the long-term pain relief that stitching usually does because it completely removes that cushion between bones. That’s the biggest concern with a meniscus tear: pain. Many athletes, soccer players in particular, play through meniscus tears for years, as long as they can handle the dull, constant pain.

U.S. Soccer refuted the reports of Jones’ surgery at the time, quoting Jones in a press release as saying that “the plan is to take care of it during the winter break.” But when he went down after a tackle in the 2-0 win over Jamaica on Friday, he was slow to get up on a couple occasions.

What started as a minor irritant a couple weeks ago could have morphed into a more painful injury by now. Schalke’s last match before the four-week Bundesliga winter break is Dec. 21 — nearly 10 possibly excruciating weeks away. And if Jones already missed time because of the knee injury, his minutes will have to be seriously managed in the upcoming weeks.

“His knee was bothering him all night [against Jamaica], but he battled through,” U.S. head coach Jürgen Klinsmann said in a U.S. Soccer release explaining why Jones won’t be in Panama on Tuesday for the team’s final (meaningless) World Cup qualifier. “It’s clear that the issue with his knee is something that should be taken care of right away so he can be 100 percent for Schalke and the national team as soon as possible.”

The longer Jones tries to soldier through the injury, the worse it could be for his form. Besides having to shuffle his minutes around and likely change training habits until he finally goes under the knife, the injury could cause him to get frustrated and lose focus on the actual soccer part of his game.

This isn’t the first time in recent memory that Jones has tried to play through pain. When he picked up a concussion in June during the U.S.’s 2-1 win at Jamaica, he told anybody who asked that he felt fine ahead of the next game against Panama one trans-continental flight and just four days later.

It might be time to save the player from himself and force him to take some time off to recover. With the World Cup still eight months away, Jones has plenty of time to recover from the minor surgery and ramp himself back up to speed, using the Bundesliga winter break as a catching-up point.

Not only would having surgery as soon as possible help the player manage his pain, but it would help his club and national teams by getting Jones back in top form earlier.

West Ham extend Payet’s contract in “enormous show of faith”

West Ham’s Dimitri Payet celebrates after scoring while soap bubbles are blown during the English Premier League soccer match between West Ham and Newcastle at Boleyn Ground in London, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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West Ham United hope Dimitri Payet is going absolutely nowhere after the club announced on Thursday the 28-year-old Frenchman has signed a contract extension through the summer of 2021.

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Payet’s current contract was scheduled to keep him at the Premier League club through the summer of 2020, but a series of standout performances (6 goals, 4 assists so far this season, mostly during the season’s opening three months) and rumors of interest from “bigger” clubs meant tacking on another year — and plenty more cash — was the best way to keep Payet in east London for the foreseeable future. The club confirmed earlier this week that negotiations over an extension were underway.

“He’s the best player I’ve signed in 25 years,” said West Ham co-owner David Sullivan. “He’s a [$43 million] player. He’s a supreme footballer. He makes every player in our side play better. On his day, he’s world class, he’s unstoppable.”

Payet, who’s been at West Ham just eight months after signing last summer, could still depart in the summer should he finish the current season strong and/or show up and show out at the European Championship, which kicks off in June. In that event, West Ham would now bag a much heftier transfer fee than they would have done prior to the extension.

VIDEO: Dele Alli’s magnificent juggling goal recreated in hand-drawn crayon

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Remember that Dele Alli goal? No, not that one… that one. Of course you remember it. How could you not?

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How often does a player receive the ball out of the air, flick it over his head, spin 180 degrees and hit an inch-perfect volley from 20 yards out to secure all three points for his team? The answer is, of course, not very often.

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Thus, a goal such as Alli’s stunning winner against Crystal Palace last month has been, and will continue to be, immortalized through numerous recreations in this Digital Age. Above is Alli’s goal recreated in hand-drawn crayon.

Watch Live: Guatemala vs. T&T; Canada vs. Guyana in Olympic qualifying

Canadian players wave to fans after a 2-1 loss to England in a quarterfinal of the Women's World Cup soccer tournament, Saturday, June 27, 2015, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP
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Group B is set to kick off Thursday night at the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, as Canada, third-place finishers at the 2012 Olympics, begin their quest to qualify for this summer’s games in Rio de Janeiro.

Guyana versus Trinidad and Tobago is up first (6 p.m. ET) from BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Tex, followed by the Canadians, who will take on Guyana (8:30 p.m. ET) in the nightcap.

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The U.S. women’s national began its Olympic qualifying campaign in impressive fashion on Wednesday with a 5-0 victory over Costa Rica, while Mexico jumped to the top of Group A with a 6-0 victory over Puerto Rico.

Sunderland terminate Adam Johnson’s contract after guilty pleas in sex case

Sunderland winger Adam Johnson arrives at Bradford Crown Court, England, Wednesday Feb. 10, 2016. Johnson has pleaded guilty in court to one count of sexual activity with a child and another of grooming. The 28-year-old Johnson, who has made 12 appearances for England, denies two charges of sexual activity with a girl under the age of 16. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE
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SUNDERLAND, England (AP) Sunderland has fired winger Adam Johnson after he pleaded guilty to grooming and sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl at the start of his trial.

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Johnson, who has played 12 times for England, continues to deny two further counts of sexual activity with a child.

Sunderland dismissed Johnson ahead of his trial resuming on Friday at Bradford Crown Court.

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In a statement, Sunderland announced Thursday that “in light of Adam Johnson’s guilty pleas, the club has today terminated his contract with immediate effect.”

The former Manchester City player joined Sunderland in 2012 for 10 million pounds (now about $14.5 million).