Jamie Vardy

Associated Press

Southgate can see Defoe in England squad long-term

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Gareth Southgate praised Jermain Defoe after his contributions to England’s 2-0 win over Lithuania on Sunday, but accidentally put a condition on his position in the squad.

The 34-year-old scored the opening goal and contributed heavily to the buildup of Jamie Vardy‘s score, and Southgate was happy that his decision to play an in-form striker paid off.

“If he scores like he is in the Premier League, there’s no reason why he wouldn’t be,” Southgate said. “We’re never able to pick a full cohort, so it’s important we can call upon the likes of Jermain and he can have the impact like he did today.

“I think we’ve got to look every time we get together as to who is in form. I don’t know if we can have a distinct pecking order because players who are playing well deserve the opportunity. If we are going to be successful, we have to have that competition for places. The reality is we will always lose players to injury.”

[ MORE: Defoe walks out Bradley Lowery before England game ]

A reporter asked him to clarify why he specified that Defoe should be scoring in the Premier League, and with his club Sunderland under heavy threat of relegation, Southgate admitted he let one slip.

“I walked into that,” Southgate said. “I guess the ideal world for all our players is they are playing regularly at a high level. The flip-side is we don’t have a huge pool of players to pick from.  We have to balance off a few different things. I can’t constrain myself on selection entirely, but I know ideally what I’d like to have. His performances and his goalscoring form this season have counted for him.”

Defoe has 14 goals in 28 Premier League appearances for Sunderland this season, but he’s proved the Black Cats’ only threat as they sit bottom of the league table with 20 points. Defoe has become the center of opposition game plans, and as a result he’s slowed down, with just two goals in his last seven games, and the club has little else to pick up the slack.

Still, at 34 years old, many wonder how much longer Defoe can contribute, and if he’ll be a viable option for next year’s World Cup.

Trio of Premier League clubs eye USMNT’s Bobby Wood

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Bobby Wood may not be fit enough to feature for the USMNT over the current international break, but the Hamburg forward still has plenty of eyes on him.

[ MORE: Cameron eager for return ]

According to Sport Bild in Germany, Wood, 24, is being monitored by Premier League trio Liverpool, Leicester City and Everton as he continues to impress in the Bundesliga.

The Hawaiian born striker has scored nine goals in 23 appearances for the Bundesliga strugglers this season after joining them last summer following impressive displays at the Copa America Centenario for the U.S.

Over the past 12 months Wood has become an integral part of the USMNT — eight goals in 29 appearances for the U.S. tells only half the story as his mobility and link-up play continues to impress — and his absence for Bruce Arena’s side will be felt in their crucial World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Panama in the next week.

If any of these potential moves to the Premier League come off, which would be the best fit for Wood?

At Liverpool he may only be a bit-part player but if Daniel Sturridge leaves this summer he could be worked into the rotation, especially considering the fact that Jurgen Klopp‘s side will have European action to contend with next season. So, definitely the most high-profile option of the three clubs said to be interested but perhaps not the best option for Wood with Divock Origi, Danny Ings and Roberto Firmino also around.

It would be a very similar situation for Wood at Everton, but it all depends on the future of Romelu Lukaku.

If Wood signed for the Toffees he would also continue the long history of having American players at Goodison Park and with only on-loan striker Enner Valencia and youngster Ademola Lookman currently challenging Lukaku for a starting spot, Ronald Koeman would like some extra help up top especially with European qualification close to being secured for next season. Surely Wood could help the Toffees out but if Lukaku stays then there wouldn’t be many chances for the U.S. striker to feature.

Leicester would be an intriguing option for Wood. Basically, he’s an American Jamie Vardy. He chases down defenders, usually feeds off scraps and can play up top on his own or out wide. Plus, he is a pretty lethal finisher when given chances in the box. Maybe Wood would be another gem the Foxes have picked up from the European continent?

Whatever happens, the American striker is certainly making a name for himself.

Vardy claims “death threats” made to him, family over Ranieri firing

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Jamie Vardy claims “death threats” were made to himself and his family in the days and weeks since Claudio Ranieri was fired as Leicester City manager last month.

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Vardy was, at the time, alleged to have been a central figure in a players’ revolt against the Italian manager who last season guided Leicester to the Premier League title despite 5,000-to-1 odds prior to the start of the season. Vardy says the stories were false, even providing an alibi of sorts, while also revealing the threats made against his family — quotes from the BBC:

“It is terrifying. I read one story that said I was personally involved in a meeting after the Sevilla game when I was actually sat in anti-doping for three hours.

“But then the story is out there, people pick it up and jump on it and you’re getting death threats about your family, kids, everything.”

“When people are trying to cut your missus up while she’s driving, with the kids in the back of the car, it’s not the best.”

[ MORE: Prandelli said no to Leicester “after seeing how Ranieri was treated” ]

Whether or not Vardy was the only player lobbying for Ranieri’s dismissal, or not at all involved, threats of violence have no place in society, let alone sports. Vardy went on to say that relations between Ranieri and his players were very healthy, right up until his departure.

“If there was an issue, you went and did it in the gaffer’s office or you went and did it on the tactics board, because he was happy for you to come in and put your opinion across.

“The stories were quite hurtful to be honest with you. A lot of false accusations were being thrown out there and there was nothing we, as players, could do about it.”

Premier League roundup: Chelsea delight, Arsenal misery

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Here’s what you may have missed from a seven-match day across England, including West Brom advertising for its “Behind the Badge” series (Watch Ep3 at 4:30 p.m. EDT Saturday on NBCSN) with a defeat of reeling Arsenal.

West Bromwich Albion 3-1 ArsenalRECAP

Craig Dawson scored a pair of goals and Hal Robson-Kanu added another as West Bromwich Albion heaped misery on Arsenal with a fourth Premier League loss in five outings.

Crystal Palace 1-0 WatfordRECAP

Troy Deeney headed a pinpoint effort… into his own goal as Palace gained some breathing room in the relegation battle.

Stoke City 1-2 ChelseaRECAP

Gary Cahill conceded the penalty that allowed Jon Walters to cancel out Willian‘s opener, and then scored the winner as Chelsea moved closer to coronation.

Everton 4-0 Hull CityRECAP

Hull was down 1-0 when it went down to 10 men, and Romelu Lukaku scored a brace in stoppage time to lead the Toffees sixth.

Sunderland 0-0 BurnleyRECAP

The Black Cats wasted a few chances and now sit seven points back of safety.

Bournemouth 2-0 Swansea CityRECAP

Alfie Mawson has been good of late for Swans, but saw Benik Afobe‘s shot take a turn off of him and defy Lukasz Fabianski to make it 1-0. Afobe added another, and the Cherries scooped up back-to-back wins for the first time since March 2016.

West Ham United 2-3 Leicester CityRECAP

Leicester’s heroes of 2015-16 were on point Saturday, as Riyad Mahrez, Robert Huth (!!), and Jamie Vardy all scored and Kasper Schmeichel made some key saves to make sure Manuel Lanzini and Andre Ayew’s goals were in defeat. It’s four-straight wins for the Foxes.

For more on Saturday’s action, listen to the latest 2 Robbies podcast.

West Ham 2-3 Leicester: Foxes win fourth-straight game

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  • Four-straight wins for Leicester
  • Goals from Mahrez, Huth, Vardy enough
  • Hammers without a win in five
  • Leicester six points above drop zone

Fresh from reaching the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals, Leicester beat West Ham United 3-2 in a thriller at the London Stadium on Saturday as Craig Shakespeare’s incredible run in charge of the Foxes continues.

First half goals from Riyad Mahrez, Robert Huth and Jamie Vardy put Leicester in a commanding half time lead as Manuel Lanzini‘s free kick made it 3-1. Despite Andre Ayew pulling one back to set up a nervous finish the Foxes held on for the vital victory with Kasper Schmeichel making a string of fine saves.

With the win, their first away victory in the Premier League all season, Leicester move on to 30 points, while West Ham stay on 33.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

Leicester took the lead early on as Mahrez cut in from the right flank and whipped a cross towards the back post which missed everyone and found the far corner of the net. 1-0 to the Foxes but poor goalkeeping from Darren Randolph.

Moments later it was 2-0 as a set piece saw Mahrez set up Marc Albrighton and his clever ball into the box was headed home by Huth. Less than eight minutes on the clock and it was 2-0 to Leicester.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings

Lanzini then stepped up and smashed home a beauty of a free kick to cut the deficit with the Hammers back in the game.

West Ham were transformed after that goal and they thought they’d equalized but Andy Carroll‘s effort from Michail Antonio‘s cross was ruled out for offside.

Just when West Ham looked like getting back into the match, Leicester scored again. A corner from the right found Vardy in the box and he smashed home from close range. 3-1 to the Foxes.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

As West Ham pushed to get back into the game they left plenty of gaps for Leicester to exploit and Vardy raced clear but dinked his effort over the onrushing Randolph and off target.

The Hammers found a way back into this contest as a corner to the back post found Carroll and his header across goal was headed home by Ayew from close range. 2-3. Game on.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score

Late on West Ham piled forward in search of a dramatic equalizer with Carroll denied by Schmeichel who pulled off a fine save, then Ayew missed a glorious chance after being put clean through and Cheikhou Kouyate had a shot cleared off the line.

Schmeichel then played the role of hero again as he blocked Carroll’s close-range shot with a magnificent sprawling save.

Leicester held on the for a massive win to significantly boost their survival hopes.