Damien Duff sets sights on Major League Soccer

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Out of contract at the end of the season, Fulham’s veteran winger Damien Duff fancies a bit of a change.

The former Republic of Ireland international, who is now 35, has been chatting with LA Galaxy captain and fellow countryman Robbie Keane, who has passed on rave reviews about Major League Soccer.

After announcing he will not be renewing his deal at Craven Cottage beyond this summer, Duff admitted to the Irish Times that he’s spoken to Keane about the possibility of making the switch to MLS.

“He [Keane] obviously loves it and every six months I see he’s signed a new deal so he’ll be there for a good while yet,” Duff said. “We’ll see what happens but I wouldn’t mind trying it to be fair, but I have to get back fit first. I’ve got a screw in my knee now and a screw in the knee of a jinky winger doesn’t really go hand in hand, but we’ll see what happens.”

Duff has said nobody at Fulham has got in touch with him about staying and he isn’t too worried about furthering his career with the Cottagers. Interestingly he also stated in the interview that he wants to end his career in the League of Ireland, which could mean any potential switch to MLS would be a very short-term arrangement.

After signing from Newcastle United in 2009 Duff has played 173 times for Fulham but a string of injuries in recent seasons, including a bad knee injury against Sheffield United back in February, has seen Duff play his last game for the Lilywhites.

Would MLS be a good option for Duff?

Let’s look at the facts, in his prime at Blackburn Rovers, the blonde-haired winger was a menace with incisive runs and cool finishing helping Rovers to some tremendous finishes in the Premier League and European soccer. In stints at Chelsea and Newcastle United that followed, Duff provided plenty of memorable moments with his classic wing-play. For Ireland, Duff played 100 times for his country and appeared in the 2002 World Cup and the 2012 European Championships. Fans of a certain age will remember Duff tearing down the wing in Japan and South Korea like a man possessed as the Emerald Isle were agonizingly knocked out in the last 16 on penalties against Spain.

All this means he’s a player of superb caliber who certainly has a lot to give any MLS team, but is Duff still fit? The man himself admitted “a screw in the knee of a jinky winger doesn’t really go hand in hand” so there could be a real fitness issue here.

Duff would undoubtedly bring quality, class and experience to any MLS side and it’s obviously very unlikely he’d demand Designated Player money. Very, very unlikely. Yet he could add something extra to any MLS team thinking outside the box. Could he pop up in LA with his good friend Keane?

Let’s see how this one plays out.

Wigan player races off for son’s birth after scoring 2 goals

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WIGAN, England (AP) It was better than a hat trick.

A player for English soccer team Wigan had a night to remember when he scored his second goal before dashing off the field and to the local hospital, where his girlfriend was in labor.

[ MORE: Chelsea advances to UCL Round of 16 after win over Qarabag ]

A picture of Ryan Colclough holding his new-born baby, Harley, while still in his soccer uniform was shared on social media by Wigan chairman David Sharpe.

Colclough said his father, sitting in the stands on Tuesday for Wigan’s 3-0 win over Doncaster in the second division, “gave me the action that the waters had broken,” but he didn’t want to come off until the ball was out of play.

“My head was a little bit battered, but I went and scored, looked at the manager and he said we’ll bring you off now,” Colclough said Wednesday of his 58th-minute goal, which he celebrated by pretending to rock a baby. “I came off and was straight down the tunnel, grabbed my keys and my phone, and went to hospital.”

Colclough had visited the midwife that day, and was told the baby was unlikely to arrive for “another couple of days.”

Lille suspends coach Marcelo Bielsa

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LILLE, France (AP) French club Lille has provisionally suspended coach Marcelo Bielsa following a string of poor results in the top tier.

[ MORE: Basel stuns Man United late to keep UCL hopes alive ]

The northern side said in a statement that Bielsa has been suspended “as part of a procedure started by the club.” Lille did not elaborate.

Bielsa joined Lille this season but has failed to make the club competitive again, with the team second to last after 13 matches.

The 2 Robbies podcast: PL sides in the UCL, Pulis sacking and more

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In today’s Euro Pod Edition, the Robbies breakdown the latest Champions League action. Man United lose at Basel, Chelsea cruise at Qarabag, Spurs impress against Dortmund, Man City continue to win, Liverpool surrender a 3-goal lead against Sevilla. Plus, the guys weigh in on the Oumar Niasse ban for diving and the Tony Pulis sacking.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

[ Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Europa League preview: Arsenal looks to wrap up Group H and more

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While several teams have already booked their place in the knockout phase, the Europa League reaches its penultimate round on Thursday with many big matches in hand.

[ MORE: Yannick Bolasie finally returns to Everton training ]

Of the two Premier League sides in the competition, only one will advance to the Round of 32, as Arsenal have all but assured themselves of the top spot in Group H. The Gunners can do so tomorrow with a win over Koln or a Red Star Belgrade defeat.

The other end of the spectrum features Everton, who has already been eliminated from reaching the next round after acquiring just one point in its first four matches.

European giants AC Milan can lock up a spot in the knockout phase on Thursday despite the club’s ongoing struggles in Serie A, while fellow Italian side Atalanta can move a step closer to the Round of 32 in Group E along with Lyon.

Here’s the full rundown of Thursday’s UEL matches.

Astana vs. Villareal — 11 a.m. ET
Konyaspor vs. Marseille — 1 p.m. ET
Rosenborg vs. Real Sociedad¬†— 1 p.m. ET
Lazio vs. Vitesse¬†— 1 p.m. ET
Viktoria Plzen vs. Steaua Bucuresti¬†— 1 p.m. ET
Lokomotiv vs. Copenhagen¬†— 1 p.m. ET
Zenit vs. Vardar¬†— 1 p.m. ET
Red Bull Salzburg vs. Vitoria¬†— 1 p.m. ET
Athletic Bilbao vs. Hertha Berlin¬†— 1 p.m. ET
BATE vs. Red Star Belgrade¬†— 1 p.m. ET
Ostersund vs. Zorya¬†— 1 p.m. ET
Koln vs. Arsenal¬†— 1 p.m. ET
Nice vs. Zulte Waregem — 1 p.m. ET
Lugano vs. Beer-Sheva¬†— 1 p.m. ET
Ludogorets vs. Istanbul¬†— 3:05 p.m. ET
Braga vs. Hoffenheim¬†— 3:05 p.m. ET
AEK vs. Rijeka¬†— 3:05 p.m. ET
AC Milan vs. Austria Wien¬†— 3:05 p.m. ET
Lyon vs. Apollon¬†— 3:05 p.m. ET
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Slavia Praha¬†— 3:05 p.m. ET
Sheriff vs. Zlin¬†— 3:05 p.m. ET
Partizan vs. Young Boys¬†— 3:05 p.m. ET
Skenderbeu vs. Dynamo Kyiv¬†— 3:05 p.m. ET
Everton vs. Atalanta — 3:05 p.m. ET