Christian Eriksen injures ankle in friendly, could miss six weeks

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Christian Eriksen’s settling in process at Tottenham was dealt a blow on Friday, with the Danish international suffering an ankle injury in the first half of Denmark’s 2-1 win over Norway. Removed from the game just before halftime, Eriksen will now leave his national team and fly to London to be assessed Spurs’ medical personnel.

Denmark’s coach, however, was pessimistic about the injury.

“We don’t know if he’s out for four or six weeks or how long it will take,” Morten Olsen said after today’s match in Herning. “It’s bad for him at a new club.”

Though he’s been sharing time with Lewis Holtby, Eriksen was in André Villas-Boas’s starting lineup on Sunday – Spurs last Premier League match before the international break. Tottenham lost 1-0 to visiting Newcastle, but Eriksen play 90 minutes, creating a game-high nine chances while occupying a playmaker’s role in the team’s 4-2-3-1. In 11 all-competition appearances this season, Eriksen has one goal and two assists, having made seven starts.

If he is out at least four weeks, Eriksen will miss league games against Manchester City, Manchester United, Fulham and potentially Sunderland, with Spurs also taking on Norway’s Tromsø on Nov. 28. If Eriksen misses six weeks, he’ll also be out for home matches against Liverpool, West Ham United, and Anzhi Makhachkala, Tottenham’s final group stage of Europa League.

With Holtby, Spurs have cover behind their striker, but with nine more matches before Boxing Day, Villas-Boas will need options between his wingers lest he ride Holtby into the ground. Gylfi Sigurdsson and  Moussa Dembele are each capable of deputizing in that role, while former Roma star Erik Lamela could be used as a more traditional No. 10. But with those players occupying roles elsewhere in Spurs’ setup, none  are likely to provide long-term solutions to Eriksen’s absence.

Thankfully for Spurs, that probably won’t be needed. If his absence is prolonged at all (remember, Olsen’s just speculating on that timeline), he’s still likely to be back by January, though that’s unlikely to make Eriksen feel better about losing valuable time integrating into his new team.

Though the 21-year-old has already established a regular spot in Spurs’ rotation, he’s yet to have the impact many expected while scoring 23 goals over the last three years in the Eredivisie. Today’s injury will only delay that impact’s arrival.

UEFA: Wales in trouble; Spain dominates; Buffon hits 1000

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Friday’s matches mark the midway point of the main round of qualifying in UEFA, and the tables remain tight near the top of Groups D and G.

[ MORE: Smalling hurt, Gibson called up ]

Group I, however, is seeing some distance between first and second thanks to Croatia’s result versus Ukraine.

Republic of Ireland 0-0 Wales

Neil Taylor was sent off in the 69th minute for Wales, whose World Cup hopes are in trouble.

Seamus Coleman was stretchered off after the tackle, with a scary-looking injury that will leave Everton fans sick in more ways than one. Coleman’s leg was broken, and left dangling by the challenge.

Ireland couldn’t take advantage of the sending off, and failed in a bid to overtake Serbia for first in Group D. The Irish trail on goal differential, and will host Serbia on Sept. 5.

But Wales will rue the result more, remaining four points back of second-place Ireland. Chris Coleman’s side drops a point behind Austria as well, and will not have Taylor or Gareth Bale (card accumulation) in its next match. That comes against leaders Serbia.

Italy 2-0 Albania

Daniele De Rossi scored a 12th minute penalty kick won by Andrea Belotti, and Ciro Immobile scored late to provided the goals in Gianluigi Buffon’s 1000th appearance for club and country. Fittingly, it ended in a clean sheet. The match was briefly delayed after flares were thrown onto the field.

Spain 4-1 Israel

David Silva, Vitolo, and Diego Costa stakes the Spaniards to a three-goal lead, with Lior Refaelov ruining David De Gea‘s clean sheet with 11 minutes to play. Isco scored the match’s final goal.

Spain remains atop Group G on goal differential, eight better than second place Italy. Israel is four points behind both.

Croatia 1-0 Ukraine

Fiorentina’s Nikola Kalinic’s 38th minute goal was enough for the hosts, and Croatia is now five points clear at the top midway through qualifying.

Elsewhere
Austria 2-0 Moldova — RB Leipzig’s Sabitzer nabs winner
Liechtenstein 0-3 Macedonia — Ilija Nestorovski bags brace
Kosovo 1-2 Iceland — Sigurdsson PK the match winner
Georgia 1-3 Serbia — Mitrovic, Tadic lead the way
Turkey 2-0 Finland — Brace for Cenk Tosun

Boro’s Gibson called to England after injury to Man Utd’s Smalling

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Scoring goals has been the biggest problem for Middlesbrough in its return to the Premier League, and that overshadows how well the Northeast club has defended its own goal.

Ben Gibson has been a huge part of that, and now he’ll earn the chance to represent his nation thanks to an injury to Chris Smalling. Gibson will join England ahead of Sunday’s home World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.

[ MORE: Podolski leads Germany past England ]

Gibson has far and away been Boro’s best player, leading the side in blocked shots and clearances. The blocked shots total is tied for ninth in the Premier League, 11 behind current leader and new England teammate Michael Keane.

Smalling’s undisclosed injury is a bigger problem for Manchester United, which had already lost center back depth on England duty when Phil Jones was hurt.

Dele Alli to miss next three European matches, UCL or UEL

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Tottenham Hotspur is primed to qualify for a second-straight UEFA Champions League campaign this year, and will have to start that sophomore run without Dele Alli.

The 20-year-old playmaker has banned for his next three matches. If Spurs finish fourth, that would mean both qualifying matches and an additional match.

[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ]

If they finish higher, Dele will miss the first three group stage matches.

Dele was shown red for a tackle on Brecht Dejaegere in Spurs’ 2-2 draw with Gent in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32, as Tottenham left the tournament.

Men in Blazers podcast: Man City-Liverpool review, USMNT preview

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Rog and Davo recap the Top Four battle between Manchester City and Liverpool, ask (again) whether it’s time for Arsene to go, and break down two of the most important USMNT games in modern history.

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