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U.S. roster for Czech Republic: Quick look at some of the newer names

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The first post-World Cup camp for the U.S. will be an exploration of young talent, with an almost entirely Europe-based squad allowing opportunities to a number of players looking to breakthrough in the 2018 cycle. Here’s a quick look at a few of the names that hope to become more familiar over the next four years:

Cody Cropper – The Southampton keeper isn’t new to U.S. rosters, but at 21 years old, Cropper’s is a name that could become more prominent in Klinsmann’s selections between now and Russia. With a long jam of goalkeepers under Ronald Koeman’s watch, time in practice with Klinsmann and goalkeeping coach Chris Wood is particularly crucial. Cropper won’t get the same minutes Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson see back in MLS.

Age: 21
Caps: 0
Club: Has yet to make a league appearance for Southampton or his previous club, Ipswich Town.

Greg Garza – The Texas-born wide-man is known to national team hardcores, but yet to be capped at the senior level, the former U-20 contributor is still an unknown to the broader fan base. A 23-year-old with a development history that touches Brazil (São Paulo FC), Texas (Dallas Texas), and Portugal (Sporting Club), Garza has become a starter for Tijuana in Liga MX. Capable of playing both fullback and wing, the 5’8″ Xolo offers the versatility that’s become characteristic of Klinsmann’s wide options.

Age: 23
Caps: 0
Club: 34 appearances and 21 starts over the last three seasons for Tijuana in Liga MX.

Joe Gyau – Like Julian Green, Gyau is a Tampa-born player poised to make an impact in Germany, only instead of being nurtured by Bayern Munich, the left winger (who can also play through the middle) has had to navigate his way through the Bundesliga. Originally starting with Hoffenheim’s second team as an 18-year-old, Gyau moved to St. Pauli and back to Hoffenheim before landing with Borussia Dortmund this season. Like BVB and Bayern, Gyau could develop a productive rivalry with Green going forward.

Age: 21
Caps: 0
Club: Has made six appearances in the 2.Bundesliga this season for Borussia Dortmund II, scoring twice in 497 minutes.

source: Getty ImagesEmerson Hyndman (right) – The 18-year-old midfielder’s connection with Schellas Hyndman has made him a fixture on this site for some time, but after taking the leap to England in 2011, the grandson of the former FC Dallas coach has found his own reason to make headlines. The former FC Dallas academy member has made two starts for Fulham this season, and while it’s uncertain the central midfielder has cemented a role under Felix Magath, playing at such a young age portends to a bright future for the U.S.’s U-17 contributor.

Age: 18
Caps: 0
Club: Has played 180 minutes across two starts for Fulham, making the 18 one other time through four games this season.

Alfredo Morales – One of five callups not playing with a first division team, Morales hasn’t seen a top-flight match since his time with Hertha in 2011-12. That hasn’t kept the Berlin-born midfielder/defender off the U.S. radar, though a cap against the Czech Republic would be the 24-year-old’s first in 19 months. Having received his first callup in Nov. 2011, Morales has long been on the fringe of the senior national team, a status he’ll hope to improve during his time in Prague.

Age: 24
Caps: 1
Club: Morales has started all three games for Inglostadt this season, scoring the team’s opening goal of the campaign on Aug. 2 at St. Pauli.

Rubio Rubin (pictured, top) – Perhaps the most exciting of the new callups, Rubin has made an immediate impact since arriving at FC Utrecht this summer, winning a spot in Robby Alflen’s plans when it was originally assumed the 18-year-old attacker would have to work his way through the reserves. A former Timbers and IMG Academy product, Rubin has been a standout at U.S. U-levels, winning U.S. Soccer’s Young Male Athlete of the Year honor in 2012 (Wil Trapp won it last year). Though he’s Mexico-eligible, Rubin’s on track to compete for a spot in 2018, having said his future lies with the U.S. national team.

Age: 18
Caps: 0
Club: Rubin came back from a preseason concussion to log 90 minutes in his Eredivisie debut Aug. 17 versus Willem II.

Bobby Wood – Like Morales, 1860 Munich’s Wood is a fringe national teamer whose trying to develop in Germany’s second division. Beyond position (Wood’s a forward), the other main difference between him and Morales is age. Whereas the Inglostadt midfielder is entering his prime, Wood is only 21. After serving as a substitute for most of last year, the versatile Californian has now assumed a starting role, playing wide left in Ricardo Moniz’s 4-2-3-1.

Age: 21
Caps: 1
Club: Wood failed to score last year in 605 minutes (21 appearances) for the Sixty’ers and has yet to register a goal this season.

How important is Philippe Coutinho to Liverpool?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24:  Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool scores their fourth goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Hull City at Anfield on September 24, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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With reports circulating that Philippe Coutinho‘s agent is in talks with Liverpool over a new deal, it is easy to see why the Reds want to reward the Brazilian playmaker.

[ MORE: Klopp on title chances

Coutinho, 24, is undoubtedly the key cog in Jurgen Klopp‘s offensive machine and since he went down with an ankle injury in November against Sunderland they’ve missed him being back to his best.

In the nine games since Coutinho was injured Liverpool have dropped 12 points in the Premier League. In the 13 PL games before his injury they dropped just nine.

Now, this isn’t down to one man but there’s no coincidence here. He makes Liverpool tick and as good as Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino have been, Coutinho is the main man. Even when you look at Liverpool’s defensive record, their much-maligned backline is slightly better with Coutinho in the team. They conceded 14 goals in 13 games before he was injured and they’ve conceded 13 in their last nine games.

Maybe that’s because Coutinho takes the pressure off his teammates by getting on the ball, dipping between the lines of defense and attack and easing pressure to allow Liverpool to dominant play rather than seeing them susceptible to counter attacks like we did against Swansea City.

Klopp’s main man started at Plymouth last week and against Swansea at the weekend, playing over an hour in each game and showing flashes of his ability. Slowly but surely he is getting back to his best and Liverpool need him to be fully fit for a pivotal stretch of games.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

On Wednesday they host Southampton in the EFL Cup semifinal second leg as the Reds trail 1-0 from the first leg. They then play an FA Cup game against second-tier Wolves and host Premier League leaders Chelsea next Wednesday in a game which they simply must win to have any hope of overhauling Chelsea to win the Premier League title.

Top four is the priority for Klopp’s men but keeping Coutinho fit and in-form is a close second.

This season he has scored five goals and added five assists in just 13 starts in the Premier League and Coutinho’s ability to thread balls in-behind to onrushing attackers, always seem to have time on the ball and ability to change the direction of play has been much missed by Liverpool over the past two months. It is inevitable that in recent displays Coutinho hasn’t looked as sharp as he did before he got injured but Klopp will be hoping the rust has been shaken off and he’s back to his best in the next week.

Along with Sadio Mane‘s absence at the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal (which will likely be until the first week of February at least as he led them to the knockout stages) Liverpool’s attack looks less dangerous and that extra bit of quality and pace is missing.

That’s because Mane and Coutinho have been missing.

With Mane away, more pressure is now on Coutinho’s shoulders.

Last season was Coutinho’s most productive of his career with 10 goals and seven assists in all competitions. He is well on the way to breaking that record this season based on goals and assists in the Premier League alone.

If Liverpool is going to at least finish in the top four this season and make at least one Wembley final, they have to keep calm and pass it to Coutinho.

He’ll do the rest.

Yaya Toure slams big money moves to China

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 21:  Yaya Toure of Manchester City looks on during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Manchester City and Sevilla at Etihad Stadium on October 21, 2015 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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Yaya Toure is sick of hearing about players moving to the Chinese Super League for big money.

[ PLAYBACK: Ref calls cost Man City ]

Toure, 33, is out of contract at the Etihad Stadium this summer but after coming back into the fold at Manchester City in recent weeks (thanks to an apology from his agent to manager Pep Guardiola) he has been a key cog in central midfield and wants to stay at City.

The towering Ivorian midfielder has been instrumental since joining City in 2010 from Barcelona. Toure has won the FA Cup, two League Cups and two Premier League titles with City and has questioned what means more to players.

Money or enjoyment?

“I always say that if I went to China I would end up feeling angry there. Do you play football because you love football, or do you play because you want to make money? What’s the purpose?” Toure said. “Me, I just want to play football because I enjoy it, I love playing. I enjoy helping my team-mates, I enjoy playing against the big players and teams. I want to carry on in that way. Some people have the mentality that they want to do that, to try something different but, for me, my feeling is that I want to play more football.”

Toure also said that he hopes to remain at City beyond the end of his current deal which expires in the summer.

“I’ve said before that I’ve been involved with a lot of clubs but, especially at City, I want to give something back to the fans,” Toure said. “I’d like to continue to work hard for them, keep giving them entertainment, keep them happy – that’s what I want. If I was tired, I’d say ‘no more, move on’, but I don’t feel like that. I feel very, very good. I feel young.”

Over to you Pep and Man City. Toure clearly wants to say.

Toure certainly has a lot more to give and now that Pep is on board, a two-year extension would surely be signed if it was offered.

The song below becomes more and more poignant. All together now…

Hull give latest update on Ryan Mason after skull fracture

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 22:  Ryan Mason of Hull City is examined by a medical staff after the collision with Gary Cahill of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Hull City at Stamford Bridge on January 22, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
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Ryan Mason is making “excellent progress” after fracturing his skull in Hull City’s 2-0 defeat at Chelsea on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

Mason, 25, collided with Chelsea’s Gary Cahill when challenging for a header in the first half.

The English midfielder has since been diagnosed with a fracture in his skull and has undergone surgery at a central London hospital

On Tuesday the Premier League club gave the latest update on Mason’s condition.

The Club can confirm that Ryan Mason continues to make excellent progress after sustaining a skull fracture in Sunday’s game against Chelsea. He will continue to be closely monitored by staff at St Mary’s Hospital over the next few days, whilst also remaining in contact with our medical team to assess his progress. There will be no further updates from the club until there are any changes in Ryan’s condition. We also ask that people respect Ryan and his family’s privacy whilst he remains in hospital.

Mason has been visited in hospital by Chelsea’s John Terry, Gary Cahill and assistant manager Steve Holland, plus Hull captain Michael Dawson and members of their staff have also been by his side.

This is very promising news.

Sunderland sign Lescott on short-term deal

WATFORD, ENGLAND - APRIL 30:  Joleon Lescott of Aston Villa reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between Watford and Aston Villa at Vicarage Road on April 30, 2016 in Watford, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Sunderland have signed defender Joleon Lescott on a short-term contract until the end of the season.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Lescott, 34, will add plenty of experience to Sunderland’s defense and will link up with former manager David Moyes who helped him become an England international during their time together at Everton from 2006-09.

The two-time Premier League winner with Manchester City in 2011-12 and 2013-14 has bounced around in the past two years since leaving the Manchester club, playing for West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa and AEK Athens after spending five years at City.

Lescott has also made 26 appearances for England, playing and scoring at EURO 2012 as his header put England ahead against France in their group opener.

Speaking about the deal, see the video below, Lescott is ready to help out the Black Cats in whatever way he can.

With Lamine Kone, John O'Shea and Papy Djilobodji around, Moyes now has options at the back and could play a three-man central defense to help bolster Sunderland’s chances of survival.

The Black Cats currently sit bottom of the table, three points from safety.