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USMNT’s Geoff Cameron close to comeback for Stoke City

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Good news for fans of the U.S. national team has arrived.

Geoff Cameron is almost back.

[ MORE: Kane idolizes Tom Brady ] 

Cameron, 31, has been out injured since Oct. 22 when he suffered an MCL strain in his knee late on in Stoke City’s 2-0 win at Hull. Initially the 2016 U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year finalist was only expected to be out for a week or so but the injury failed to heal properly and he’s now been out for close to four months.

However, speaking to Stoke’s website on Friday his manager Mark Hughes revealed that Cameron is ready to return training with the first team.

“Geoff Cameron looks like he is very close to getting back with the group which will be a boost for us,” Hughes said. He also added in his press conference that Cameron will be in training with the team on Friday.

“Geoff has had a good week or so, and all being well he will join in with the group for the warm-up session on Friday,” Cameron said. “Hopefully there are no issues after that and then he can join in full training next week, which would be a huge boost for him and for us.”

News that the Boston native is well on the road to a full recovery will be music to the ears of USMNT head coach Bruce Arena ahead of the two crucial World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Panama next month. Cameron’s partnership alongside John Brooks was key in the U.S. national team making the semifinal of the Copa America Centenario last summer and he’s become a leader in the dressing room with 47 caps and four goals to his name for the Stars and Stripes.

When is Cameron likely to return?

Tmorrow’s game against Crystal Palace (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET online via NBCSports.com) will obviously come to soon, but then Stoke have 15 days off until their next game at Tottenham Hotspur on Feb. 26.

Cameron will be more than likely ready to play some part in that game and then he has three more matches before the next international break at the end of March.

Chelsea joins Man Utd in FA Cup Final

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Chelsea will meet old pal Jose Mourinho in the FA Cup Final after beating Southampton 2-0 at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata scored the goals for Antonio Conte‘s men, whose date with Manchester United comes at the same venue on May 19.

Southampton will turn its attention back to the relegation battle, four points behind 17th place Swansea City.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Willian hit the cross bar with an early effort as Chelsea looked very much up for the semifinal.

Olivier Giroud had a 39th minute chance zip wide of the frame, as Chelsea posted nine of the first half’s 11 shot attempts while holding 60 percent possession.

Saints would have been happy to get to the locker room at nil-nil.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Twenty-eight seconds into the second half: That’s when Giroud scored, with Chelsea’s first long ball knocked down by Eden Hazard on the edge of the 18 and played to the Frenchman.

Giroud cut between two Saints defenders and goalkeeper Alex McCarthy to stab home with his right foot.

Hazard curled an effort of his own wide in the 48th minute.

Saints snapped to life, and Shane Long touched around Wily Caballero but too strong to equalize at Wembley.

Nathan Redmond forced a wild save out of Caballero in the 72nd minute, and nearly claimed the corner.

McCarthy tipped a Hazard shot over the bar minutes later.

Morata put it to bed on a cross from his in-tune assist man Cesar Azpilicueta.

The finish was thrilling nevertheless, with Charlie Austin hitting the far post and Saints getting a goal line clearance at the other end.

Wenger: Praise after exit announcement “more than I deserve”

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Arsene Wenger doesn’t seem like the type to go on a victory lap, but the Arsenal boss is handling his resignation and the accompanying praise with pure class.

[ RECAP: Arsenal 4-1 West Ham ]

Wenger announced the end of his long Arsenal tenure earlier this week, and has been met by heaps of praise from ex-players, fans, current Gunners, and even rivals.

The Frenchman addressed the plaudits following a 4-1 win over West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday. From the BBC:

“I would like to thank everyone who has been very nice and kind and praised me more than I deserved it. I would like to say thank you everyone. It’s been a great period for me and I’m thankful for that.”

Arsenal punished West Ham after the Irons equalized through Marko Arnautovic, getting a lucky goal from Aaron Ramsey and two fine finishes from Alexandre Lacazette in the win.

“I was focused on winning the game. We just tried to be professional and do our job even when the circumstances are different. It was a good team spirit and good preparation for Thursday.

“I think we constructed patiently. We didn’t make big mistakes. First of all before winning a trophy, you need to get through the semi-finals. This is a good way to prepare – scoring goals against a strong West Ham team who have done well recently.”

Next up: A huge test in the UEFA Europa League semifinals, with Atletico Madrid visiting for Thursday’s first leg. Wenger rested several big names, and Atleti has just one win from its last four matches (including a Madrid Derby draw at the Bernabeu).

WATCH: Chelsea’s Giroud scores 27 seconds after halftime

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Southampton held firm against Chelsea’s challenge for 45 minutes of Sunday’s FA Cup semifinal at Wembley Stadium.

Well, 45 minutes and 27 seconds.

[ RECAP: Arsenal 4-1 West Ham ]

The first long ball of the second half saw Chelsea’s Eden Hazard leap to trap, and the Belgian played a quick ball forward to his striker.

That’s Olivier Giroud, who dribbled between two defenders and Saints goalkeeper Alex McCarthy to stab home with the outside of his right foot.

Watch Live: Man City vs. Swans

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Manchester City enters the Etihad Stadium as Premier League champions as it welcomes relegation-scrapping Swansea City on Sunday (Watch live at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

And on the sub’s bench for City (cue professional wrestling announcer voice): That’s Benjamin Mendy‘s music!!

The visitors appear to be set to play five at the back, with brothers Jordan and Andre Ayew up top.

LINEUPS

Manchester City: Ederson, Danilo, Kompany, Laporte, Delph, Gündogan, De Bruyne, Bernardo, Silva, Sterling, Jesus. Subs: Bravo, Walker, Sané, Mendy, Otamendi, Touré, Foden

Swansea City: Fabianski, Naughton, Van der Hoorn, Fernandez, Mawson, Olsson, Ki, King, Carroll, A. Ayew, J. Ayew. Subs: Nordfeldt, Bartley, Roberts, Clucas, Dyer, Routledge, Abraham.