Defoe, Shaw, Forster in England squad named for Denmark friendly

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Roy Hodgson has released a list of 30 men who will be with England for its March 5 friendly against Denmark, and there are plenty of discussion points for Three Lions enthusiasts.

Included in the list are five Manchester United players, tops among all Premier League clubs, including Chris Smalling, Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck and, of course, Wayne Rooney.

Also notable is the inclusion of presumed-injured and newly-minted Toronto FC striker Jermain Defoe. A hamstring ailment is going to keep him out of his Tottenham goodbye match today. With his TFC season debut in question, the bigger query is whether Defoe will risk it for this chance to stake his claim in England’s plans for the World Cup.

Eighteen-year-old defender Luke Shaw of Southampton continues his meteoric rise into English prominence with a call-up, and is joined by teammates Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez.

Aside from Defoe, the only English call-up not plying his trade in the Premier League is Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster. He was with Newcastle through the rise of Tim Krul and has been a major factor for the Hoops. It’ll be interesting to see whether he gets a true chance to prove himself for England, as he just had a run of 1256 clean minutes end for club and earned his first cap in November against Chile.

Phil Jagielka is out of the friendly with an injury, while Nicklas Bendtner will be a part of the opposition roster.

Goalkeepers
Fraser Forster (Celtic)
Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion)
Joe Hart (Manchester City)
John Ruddy (Norwich City)

Defenders
Leighton Baines (Everton)
Gary Cahill (Chelsea)
Steven Caulker (Cardiff City)
Ashley Cole (Chelsea)
Glen Johnson (Liverpool)
Luke Shaw (Southampton)
Chris Smalling (Manchester United)
Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur)

Midfielders
Ross Barkley (Everton)
Michael Carrick (Manchester United)
Tom Cleverley (Manchester United)
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)
Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
Adam Lallana (Southampton)
Frank Lampard (Chelsea)
James Milner (Manchester City)
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal)
Raheem Sterling (Liverpool)
Andros Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur)
Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)

Forwards
Jermain Defoe (Toronto FC)
Rickie Lambert (Southampton)
Jay Rodriguez (Southampton)
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)
Daniel Welbeck (Manchester United)

Mascherano out 6 weeks, will miss Argentina vs. Brazil

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says defender Javier Mascherano will be out of action for six weeks to recover from a right knee injury.

[ MORE: Luis Enrique leaves Barca with feeling of accomplishment ]

Barcelona’s season is over, but the injury will rule out Mascherano from Argentina’s friendly against Brazil on June 9.

Mascherano injured his leg early in Saturday’s final of the Copa del Rey, when Barcelona beat Alaves 3-1 to defend its title for a third straight season.

He also cut his head during the collision with an Alaves player that produced the leg injury. He returned on crutches to join the team celebration.

Argentina doesn’t play its next World Cup qualifier until it plays Uruguay on Aug. 28.

Courtois aiming at new Chelsea contract after strong season

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There’s a wide range of players that were integral in Chelsea’s Premier League-winning season in 2016/17, but one of the most underrated was arguably goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

[ MORE: PL clubs may miss on Celtic’s Dembele and more transfer news ]

The Blues shot-stopper started all but two PL matches this past campaign, and now the Belgian international is seeking an extension with the London club.

“Contract talks haven’t opened but I am happy at Chelsea,” Courtois told Sky Sports after Chelsea’s loss to Arsenal at Wembley.

“I hope they reward me with a good contract, then there will be no doubt I will sign it.”

The 25-year-old keeper has been in at Stamford Bridge since arriving from Genk in 2011, but Courtois spent three seasons in Spain on a loan spell.

Courtois likened this PL campaign to his time on loan at Atletico Madrid, stating that while his side’s achievements in the league were everything Chelsea could have hoped for that there was still more the Blues could have done.

“It’s not a good feeling now,” Courtois told Chelsea’s official website. “I had the same thing in Spain when I won the league and then lost the Champions League.

“We wanted to end on a high, now we feel sad. Winning is everything so this is hard to face but we have to try to forget it.”

Francesco Totti on bench for final Roma match

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Sunday marks Francesco Totti’s final match with Roma after a stellar 24-year career, but the striker won’t be starting at the Stadio Olimpico.

[ MORE: Reus could miss at least six months after suffering knee damage ]

The 40-year-old was named to the bench for his club’s 2016/17 Serie A finale against Cagliari, with Roma needing a victory to capture second position in Italy’s top flight.

Napoli currently sits just one point behind the Giallorossi and hold a slight two-goal edge in goal differential, which could be a decisive factor in which side finishes second.

It would be quite odd for Roma to not give Totti playing time in his final outing, after a career that featured over 300 goals across all competitions for his hometown club.

Transfer rumor roundup: PL clubs losing ground for Dembele and more

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With all the major leagues across Europe either closing or already have finished it’s the season of transfer rumors once again.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Arsenal’s FA Cup win vs. Chelsea ]

Here are several of the juiciest pieces from Sunday:

Three London sides could potentially miss out on Celtic star Moussa Dembele as AC Milan has emerged as a favorite to sign the top-rated Frenchman. Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham have all expressed great interest in the promising attacker, who scored 17 goals this season for the Scottish champions.

After struggling at times this season to keep goals out, Liverpool could turn to France as a potential outlet to fix the cracks in their back line. AS Monaco’s Benjamin Mendy already has significant PL interest from Manchester United and Manchester City, but Jurgen Klopp‘s side could also put up a fight.

West Ham is looking to bolster its attack this summer, and with Pep Guardiola likely making significant changes at the Etihad Stadium, Kelechi Iheanacho could be on his way to the Hammers ahead of the 2017/18 PL season.

Manchester City higher ups are keen on having Guardiola bring back goalkeeper Joe Hart from Torino this summer. Hart spent last season on loan with the Italian club after Guardiola sent him away from England early in his managing tenure at the club.