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Swansea City player Leon Britton named caretaker coach

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Leon Britton will take charge of Swansea City for their huge clash with relegation rivals Crystal Palace on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com) after Paul Clement was fired on Wednesday.

Britton, 35, has been working on the coaching staff for the post few months at Swansea and the midfielder has been with the club for 15 years as a professional and has risen with them through the leagues. He is a fans favorite and will earn the respect of his players immediately.

The elegant English midfielder will take charge on a caretaker basis, with the likes of Tony Pulis, Ronald Koeman and Ryan Giggs already being ruled out of the running for the position.

Although he admitted now is not the right time for him to be given the role on a permanent basis, Britton believes he can help lift the Swansea squad and his fellow teammates in the next few weeks.

“That’s one of the reasons I agreed to take this role – because I believe I can have an effect on the team in the immediate future,” Britton said. “I am sure the fans will be behind the team on Saturday and hopefully I can help lift the players. We have to make sure we’re in the right frame of mind and hopefully that will lead to a result.”

With Swansea sitting bottom of the Premier League table with just 12 points and three wins from their first 18 games of the season, Britton and whoever comes in on a permanent basis have a huge job on their hands.

On a lighter note, let’s focus on Britton’s team talk ahead of the Palace game: “Leon. Captain. Leon. Penalty kick taker. Set pieces. Leon…” That would be amusing if it happened, but Britton confirmed he’s struggling with a calf injury and unavailable.

Joking aside, if Britton does well then it isn’t inconceivable he will be given the job on a permanent basis. Look at the Bundesliga and how well young coaches have done in tough circumstances in recent years, plus Swansea did think outside the box in the past when it came to managerial appointments as young coaches like Roberto Martinez and Garry Monk were given chances.

Since they were promoted to the PL in 2011, the Swans have been proponents of attacking, entertaining soccer with the “Swansea Way” leading them to the top 10 under Michael Laudrup, a League Cup trophy and European action.

However, the Swansea Way has become somewhat muddled in recent seasons with the South Wales side now going through three managers in the past 12 months in Francesco Guidolin, Bob Bradley and Clement. In each of the last two campaign they’ve survived relegation with a late season surge and it will be another struggle this season.

Without Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente, who were both sold in the summer, it is tough to see where Swansea’s goals will come from. They are the lowest scorers in the PL with just 10 goals this season and with Jordan Ayew and Wilfried Bony struggling for form, Tammy Abraham has done his best in his first season in the PL but it seems like that won’t be enough.

If Swansea lose to Crystal Palace at home this weekend, they could be as much as seven points from safety. They’ve been in worse situations than this and survived but the situation is getting pretty desperate.

FIFA force pace on $25B Club World Cup, global league plan

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GENEVA (AP) FIFA is forcing the pace on talks over a $25 billion offer to revamp the Club World Cup and create a global national team competition.

FIFA says President Gianni Infantino hosted a meeting last Friday with invited officials from some top European clubs.

[ MORE: Everton gets past Newcastle behind Walcott strike ]

The European Club Association has strongly opposed FIFA’s hope for a four-yearly club tournament starting in 2021, which could rival the UEFA-organized Champions League.

UEFA has also proposed a Global Nations League. A similar project is tied to the FIFA-controlled $25 billion, 12-year offer from a consortium including investors from Saudi Arabia and China.

FIFA says it’s holding “informal ongoing discussions with different stakeholders on the topic of the future Club World Cups.”

Infantino is set to meet confederation presidents and general secretaries “in the near future,” FIFA says.

Video: De Rossi, Roma make classy visit to Hillsborough memorial

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On many occasions there are instances where teams and individuals exemplify the fact that real-life occurrences are more meaningful than sports.

Ahead of Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League meeting, Italian giants AS Roma visited Anfield –where they will face Liverpool in the competition’s semifinals.

After walking around the venue where the two sides will compete in less than 24 hours, Roma captain Daniele de Rossi and the rest of the Roma squad visited the Hillsborough memorial at Anfield to pay tribute to the 96 victims lost in the 1989 event that rocked the entire country.

De Rossi was seen laying a floral arrangement on the site, along with a note from the club that read, “In memoria delle vittime di Hillsborough AS Rome.”

Liverpool, Roma ride major emotions into the UCL semifinals

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Four clubs remain in this season’s UEFA Champions League competition, and while two of the teams have been considered heavy dogs in the fight all year long the other two sides look to continue on their storybook run.

Liverpool, Roma, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have found themselves in the semifinals of this season’s UCL, creating a strong mix of storylines as the tournament heads towards its most critical point.

[ MORE: Everton gets past Newcastle behind Theo Walcott’s strike ]

Anfield will be the site for Tuesday’s first leg between Liverpool and Roma, with both sides still riding major highs from their victories in the last round.

The Reds enter the final four after having disposed of fellow Premier League side Manchester City in relatively dominating fashion. Meanwhile, Roma completed a seemingly impossible comeback against Barcelona to progress in the competition.

Liverpool is led by three of the year’s top goalscorers, including Mohamed Salah — who has scored eight goals in the UCL and 41 across all competitions.

For Roma, much of the side’s success has been predicated on finding defensive strength at the right moments throughout the tournament.

Despite falling behind 4-1 in their first leg defeat to Barca in the previous round, Edin Dzeko and Co. rallied for a 3-0 win at the Stade Olimpico to stun the Catalan club by holding Lionel Messi and his side in check.

Manager Eusebio Di Francesco will have to find creative ways to halt the Liverpool attack though over the course of two legs, with the Reds boasting the top attack in this year’s UCL.

Liverpool has scored 33 goals in 10 UCL matches, while only conceding seven in the process.

Keeper Ederson hopeful he can score this season for Man City

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The prospects for a goalkeeper scoring during a match are usually uncommon, but that hasn’t halted Manchester City’s number one choice from aiming to break the trend this season.

Ederson — who has moved into the starting role at the Etihad Stadium with relative ease in 2017/18 — has dreamt of scoring a goal of his own for the Premier League champions in waiting.

“I heard the fans chanting my name, asking me to take the penalty but Gabriel went there,” Ederson said. “Unfortunately he missed it and Bernardo happily scored. But if the manager have asked me to go there, definitely I’d score.

“I’m not sure if I would be able to do set-pieces, but I’m good at penalties, either using power or technique on shooting it. But City have [their] regular penalty-takers and we are well-served.

Citizen supporters chanted for the goalkeeper to take a penalty kick over the weekend in the team’s 5-0 win over Swansea City.

However, Gabriel Jesus was the man selected for the opportunity, but had his attempt saved by Lukasz Fabianski before Bernardo Silva was in the right spot to score the game’s fifth goal.

“If Pep asks me to take it, I’m there,” Ederson said of the penalty kick. “Hopefully it will happen [before the end of the season], I’d like to score.”

This isn’t the first time Ederson has discussed exploring opportunities outside of the net, though.

The Brazilian shot-stopper has long been a fan of former Brazil international goalkeeper Rogero Ceni — who scored 65 goals for club side Sao Paolo.

Earlier this season, the 24-year-old joked around with the media, saying that he’d be more than happy to fill a role in the midfield when City was experiencing some injury issues within the squad.