Fulham appear to be frontrunners for Clint Dempsey’s temporary services – but is it the right move?

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Reports are starting to spring up across England that Clint Dempsey’s loan destination is likely to be his old club Fulham.

The 30-year-old Texan made a well-known exit from Craven Cottage under Martin Jol, falling out with the manager before jumping ship to Tottenham Hotspur.

His time at White Hart Lane was short lived, heading out to Major League Soccer, but with Dempsey’s club form dropping rapidly since leaving SW6, a reunion might not be the worst thing in the world for his confidence.

British rapper Example, a very open Fulham supporter, tweeted at a fan yesterday saying Dempsey had told him he was returning to Craven Cottage.

The fan asked him “You hear @clint_dempsey’s coming home? he turned down West Ham for #ffc” referring to a report by the ever-reliable ZapSportz.com (who?).  Example replied with the following:

source:

The tweet has since been deleted, but what goes up does not always come down on the internet.

Dean Jones of The People also said on the Fulham fan show Cottage Talk that it’s a “very probable” move and that “next week things will seriously move on.”

But does a spell at Fulham – reportedly a 2-month loan – really make sense for the USMNT star?

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It wasn’t long ago that Dempsey was on top of the world at Craven Cottage, winning Player of the Season two consecutive years in 2010/2011 and 2011/2012.

With Jol out at Fulham and Rene Meulensteen managing in his stead, the move is an understandable one for both parties…somewhat.

Fulham are struggling in 18th place, trying desperately to avoid relegation that would halt a 12-year run in the English top flight.

With just three points in their last seven matches, results have been hard to come by at Craven Cottage, and the return of a both talented and familiar player would be a massive boost to Meulensteen’s squad.

However, there’s a flip side.

Meulensteen’s preferred tactics are still a relative unknown, but if his first win with Fulham – a 2-0 triumph over Aston Villa last weekend – is any indication, it may not be a perfect fit for Dempsey.

The Dutch manager swapped out Jol’s static 4-2-3-1 formation for a more technically sound 4-5-1, placing the central midfielders in an inverted triangle and eliminating the CAM position altogether.  That trio of midfielders – Giorgis Karagounis, Steve Sidwell, and Scott Parker – ran the show and tamed an Aston Villa squad that has been fantastic away from Villa Park.

If that continues, Dempsey’s only real spot on the team (assuming Dimitar Berbatov stays to man the striker slot) would be on the wing, which has been a revolving door at Fulham this season, with everyone showing flashes of talent but nobody doing enough to lock down a spot. Alex Kacaniklic, Adel Taarabt, Pajtim Kasami, and Ashkan Dejagah have all given Fulham a youthful shot in the arm, but only for short spurts.

Other teams interested in the loan signature of Clint Dempsey appear to include West Ham and Stoke City.  It’s not exactly a given those two teams would be a fit for him either.

Stoke City would be especially poor. They are also relatively full on the wings with Marko Arnautovic playing exceptionally well.  The style of play there is also not exactly suitable to Dempsey, with Mark Hughes still sometimes reverting to the Tony Pulis long-ball days of old.

Where do you see Clint ending up? And more importantly, where do you think the best location is for him to thrive?

Lletget diagnosed with foot sprain, escaping further damage

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Word has arrived from the LA Galaxy camp that will see USMNT fans feel relieved as Sebastian Lletget has escaped the news many feared.

The young attacker was impressive in the first 18 minutes of the United States’ 6-0 win over Honduras, but was injured minutes after scoring the opening goal and could not continue. Replays showed that Lletget got his foot caught underneath a defender in the process of a hard challenge on the right wing.

There was concern that Lletget would be out for a significant amount of time, but the Galaxy announced that after testing over the weekend, Lletget did not suffer any structural damage and was diagnosed with a left foot sprain.

[ MORE: USMNT adds Paul Arreola to roster, drops Lletget, Brooks, Morris ]

Lletget will visit a specialist on Monday to determine a plan for recovery, and it’s possible that he will still have to miss some time in the near future. The Galaxy visit Vancouver on Saturday, and his status for that match has to be considered up in the air. They then host Montreal on April 7.

While Lletget obviously misses out on the next USMNT game at Panama on Tuesday having already been dumped from the roster, he will most definitely be available for the June games against Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico, and will likely be an option for Bruce Arena given the manager’s history with Lletget at Los Angeles.

The United States have been struck with a collection of injuries that all occurred just before the international break, hampering the squad significantly. Bobby Wood, Jordan Morris, and Fabian Johnson all went down in the days before reporting for international duty, and the team lost Lletget and John Brooks in the Honduras win. Lletget’s departure could see Alejandro Bedoya into the starting lineup on Tuesday, with the Union midfielder having replaced Lletget in the Honduras match. Also in contention is Jermaine Jones, who could come in after his suspension and push Darlington Nagbe onto the wing.

Southgate can see Defoe in England squad long-term

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Gareth Southgate praised Jermain Defoe after his contributions to England’s 2-0 win over Lithuania on Sunday, but accidentally put a condition on his position in the squad.

The 34-year-old scored the opening goal and contributed heavily to the buildup of Jamie Vardy‘s score, and Southgate was happy that his decision to play an in-form striker paid off.

“If he scores like he is in the Premier League, there’s no reason why he wouldn’t be,” Southgate said. “We’re never able to pick a full cohort, so it’s important we can call upon the likes of Jermain and he can have the impact like he did today.

“I think we’ve got to look every time we get together as to who is in form. I don’t know if we can have a distinct pecking order because players who are playing well deserve the opportunity. If we are going to be successful, we have to have that competition for places. The reality is we will always lose players to injury.”

[ MORE: Defoe walks out Bradley Lowery before England game ]

A reporter asked him to clarify why he specified that Defoe should be scoring in the Premier League, and with his club Sunderland under heavy threat of relegation, Southgate admitted he let one slip.

“I walked into that,” Southgate said. “I guess the ideal world for all our players is they are playing regularly at a high level. The flip-side is we don’t have a huge pool of players to pick from.  We have to balance off a few different things. I can’t constrain myself on selection entirely, but I know ideally what I’d like to have. His performances and his goalscoring form this season have counted for him.”

Defoe has 14 goals in 28 Premier League appearances for Sunderland this season, but he’s proved the Black Cats’ only threat as they sit bottom of the league table with 20 points. Defoe has become the center of opposition game plans, and as a result he’s slowed down, with just two goals in his last seven games, and the club has little else to pick up the slack.

Still, at 34 years old, many wonder how much longer Defoe can contribute, and if he’ll be a viable option for next year’s World Cup.

Group F gets messy as Slovakia and Scotland grab wins

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England is in control at the top of Group F, but below them things are beginning to get complicated.

Despite the absence of Marek Hamsik due to a last-minute injury, Slovakia defeated Malta 3-1. They took the lead just 97 seconds in as Vladimir Weiss put the visitors in front with a beautiful curling strike from outside the box. Malta struck back through domestic striker Jean Paul Farrugia in the 14th minute, but that was all Malta could muster.

Slovakia would go ahead just before halftime as FC Copenhagen midfielder Jan Gregus put them in front in the 41st minute. The speculative shot from Gregus came from a great distance out, and as it skipped across the ground, it appeared Malta goalkeeper Andrew Hogg saw it late, as his dive was poor and it skipped off his hands and in.

Both teams ended with 10 men on the field, as Farrugia was sent off with 16 minutes to go for a second yellow, and Adam Nemec saw the same fate in injury time, but before he was sent off, Nemec was there to kill the game off in the 84th minute.

That put Slovakia up to nine points, and it moved them into second place thanks to late drama in Glasgow. Chris Martin gave Scotland all three points with an 88th minute strike as the home side won 1-0 over Slovenia, who dropped from second to third with the loss. The Fulham striker got a beautiful feed through the back line from Stuart Armstrong, and while his shot wasn’t terribly accurate, it was enough to win the game as Slovenia goalkeeper Matus Kozacik gave it a poor effort.

The win for Scotland pulls them above Lithuania and into fourth, a point back of Slovenia in third.

Wasteful Poland snatches late 2-1 win at Montenegro

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Poland was in control for much of the game, but failed to finish in front of net until Borussia Dortmund full-back Lukasz Piszczek found the winner with eight minutes to go as the visitors increased their lead at the top of World Cup qualification Group E.

Robert Lewandowski put Poland in front five minutes before halftime with a brilliant free-kick that left Montenegran goalkeeper Mladen Blozovic completely baffled, but Montenegro looked sturdy at the back for much of the game and dangerous on the counter. They’d hit just past the hour mark as Stefan Mugosa headed in to level the score.

Lewandowski had a pair of massive chances in the second half, but couldn’t get either to go down as Blozovic was there to turn him away, and Montenegran defenders cleared off the line as well. Luckily for Poland, they had Piszczek who burst down the right to beat Aleksandar Sofranac, and he produced a stunning finish looped over the closing Blozovic from a tight angle, dinked off the far post, and into the back of the net.

That would do it for Montenegro who had little attacking ability outside of their countering abilities, and with Poland happy to ease out the clock, the hosts didn’t have enough.

The win pushes Poland six points clear at the top of Group E, a sizeable lead with five matches remaining. The battle for the second-place spot is tight, with Montenegro still in command on seven points, level with Denmark but ahead on goal differential. Armenia and Romania are even with six points each.