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Premier League clubs battle for 16-year-old Sessegnon

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Ryan Sessegnon is just 16 years old, but he’s already highly coveted.

The Fulham left-back became the first player born after the turn of the millennium to score in any of the top four English leagues, and he immediately turned the heads of some of the Premier League’s top teams.

Sessegnon scored a double against Championship leaders Newcastle last weekend, and his value to Fulham was made painfully obvious when manager Slavisa Jokanovic denied the youngster a chance at a hat-trick as he prohibited Sessegnon from taking a late penalty, one that Tim Ream missed. Jokanovic likely wished for Sessegnon to stay out of the headlines, but the damage had already been done.

Premier League teams have been swirling around the youngster for months, with rumors of interest from teams like Tottenham and Liverpool earlier in the season. Sessegnon isn’t a regular for the Whites, instead splitting time at left-back with Scott Malone, but a recent spell of good form has seen his stock rise considerably. His pace and ability to pick out a pass has teams salivating, despite his stick-like frame.

With Fulham on the cusp of a playoff spot, it’s possible that Sessegnon could see Premier League action next year without a move, but should the Whites miss out on promotion, there will be a summer of tension as the Championship club looks to keep hold of its young talent.

Liverpool seems the most sensible destination of the teams mentioned, as Jurgen Klopp has been searching for a long-term solution while James Milner continues to deputize on the defensive line. Still, the question remains whether Sessegnon is ready for a step up to higher competition. Two summers ago Fulham saw Patrick Roberts – another undersized youngster – leave for Manchester City, and while he remains a future option, he still has yet to make a serious impression on loan at Celtic. City has time for Roberts to develop, but Liverpool’s left-back situation calls for slightly more urgency.

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino got an up-close look at Sessegnon during the 3-0 Spurs win over Fulham in FA Cup play a few weeks ago. Other teams mentioned as tracking the 16-year-old include Everton and Newcastle, with the latter looking set for the Premier League next season. Sessegnon would compete with 25-year-old Paul Dummett at Newcastle, while the Toffees could be looking for a long-term replacement to Everton mainstay Leighton Baines.

It would seem that, as it is with highly coveted playmaker Tom Cairney, Fulham’s best hope to keep hold of Sessegnon seems to be promotion, but if that doesn’t happen, the sharks will smell an opportunity to poach yet another talented youth product off Motspur Park.

Championship Focus: Awful week sees Newcastle’s lead disappear

Photo credit: Fulham FC / Twitter: @FulhamFC
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A week ago, Newcastle United sat atop England’s second division with a five-point lead and just 11 games still to play. Following a 0-0 draw away to Reading on Tuesday, and Brighton & Hove Albion’s 2-0 win away to last-place Rotherham United the same day, the Magpies’ advantage was three points.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s coverage of the Championship ]

In short, Rafa Benitez‘s men looked poised to run away with the Championship title, let alone one of the two automatic promotion places.

Newcastle United 1-3 Fulham

Now, following a 3-1 thrashing at the hands of seventh-place Fulham on Saturday, only goal differential has Newcastle top of the league. Huddersfield Town, on the back of two wins this week, are now just six points back in the race for automatic promotion.

Tom Cairney put the visitors ahead on the quarter-hour mark, and then a star was born. 16-year-old Ryan Sessegnon bagged a brace in eight second-half minutes (51st and 58th) to complete the Cottagers’ scoring, his third and fourth league goals of the season. Sessegnon was denied the chance to complete his hat trick, though, when Tim Ream took, and missed, a 91st-minute penalty kick.

[ MORE: Arsenal beat Lincoln to reach FA Cup semis | Man City also through ]

Brighton & Hove Albion 3-0 Derby County

Brighton applied the pressure Friday night, well before Newcastle took the field a day later, brushing aside 10th-place Derby at Falmer Stadium. Anthony Knockaert opened the scoring in the fifth minute, and Sam Baldock and Glenn Murray completed the rout either side of the halftime break.

Following back-to-back losses last week, Brighton are back in the title race thanks to back-to-back wins this week. As ever, everything in the Championship is up and down like a yoyo.

Elsewhere in the Championship

(14th) Brentford 0-1 (3rd) Huddersfield Town
(4th) Leeds United 0-0 (15th) Queens Park Rangers
(8th) Preston North End 3-0 (5th) Reading
(12th) Aston Villa 2-0 (6th) Sheffield Wednesday

American center back Ream with tough own goal for Fulham (video)

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Tim Ream has been a mainstay at center back for Fulham, and the 29-year-old American has been mostly good at Craven Cottage.

The problem with being a center back is that we rarely get to toss out video footage of key tackles and terrific positioning.

We get to note the bad stuff, though, and the ex-Red Bulls back certainly put one in that category on Tuesday.

[ MORE: USMNT learns Gold Cup draw ]

Fulham drew Leeds United 1-1, which isn’t an awful result for the resurgent Cottagers. Leeds’ goal, however, came off the boot of Ream. As we mentioned earlier, he plays for Fulham.

See the goal below. Fulham is seventh in the Championship table, five points back of the final promotion playoff spot with a match-in-hand. Fulham is off to first place Newcastle on Saturday, where Ream could be across from fellow American defender DeAndre Yedlin.

FA Cup: Kane’s hat trick sees Spurs sail past Fulham, into QF

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Tottenham Hotspur have done plenty to frustrate and confound their supporters in recent weeks — their Premier League title race has all but officially gone, and they’ve got some work to do in their Europa League round-of-32 tie — but Mauricio Pochettino‘s side is now just 270 minutes from lifting the club’s first major trophy since 2008.

[ MORE: FA Cup roundup — Premier League sides underwhelm in 5th round ]

A 3-0 victory away to Championship side Fulham on Sunday sends Tottenham through to the quarterfinals of the FA Cup, where they’ll join the likes of Lincoln City and Millwall — as well as PL leaders Chelsea, and possibly Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United.

Harry Kane bagged all three of Spurs goals — the first two of which were created courtesy of delightful wide service from Christian Eriksen — the first a simple tap-in from six yards out in the 16th minute; the second a slightly more difficult, waist-high redirect from inside 10 yards not long after halftime. The hat trick was complete on 73 minutes, when Kane raced in behind the Fulham defense and fired past Marcus Bettinelli at the near post.

[ MORE: Fifth-division Lincoln City shock PL side Burnley in FA Cup ]

Elsewhere in the FA Cup

Burnley 0-1 Lincoln City — RECAP | REACTION
Huddersfield Town 0-0 Manchester City
Middlesbrough 3-2 Oxford United
Millwall 1-0 Leicester City
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-2 Chelsea

Sunday’s FA Cup schedule

Blackburn Rovers vs. Manchester United — 11:15 a.m. ET

Monday’s FA Cup schedule

Sutton United vs. Arsenal — 2:55 p.m. ET

FA Cup preview: Spurs, Man United face Championship opposition

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As the Premier League sides have dwindled down in this season’s FA Cup, two of England’s big boys will hope to avoid upsets on Sunday.

At the moment, six PL clubs remain in the competition after Chelsea and Middlesbrough advanced on Saturday and Manchester City was held to a draw against Huddersfield. Arsenal will meet non-league affiliated side Sutton United on Monday.

[ MORE: FA Cup Saturday wrap — Man City held against Huddersfield ]

Fulham vs. Tottenham — 9 a.m. ET

While Spurs have come away victorious in five of their six FA Cup encounters against Fulham in the past, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side will face a tough test on Sunday. Fulham is currently battling to stay in the race for promotion next season to re-join England’s top flight but the Craven Cottage side will have a legitimate chance to make some noise after knocking off Hull City and Cardiff in the past two rounds.

Meanwhile, Spurs will likely be without striker Harry Kane, who picked up an injury in Thursday’s defeat against Gent in the Europa League. Tottenham has struggled away from home as of late, having won just two of their last 14 fixtures away from White Hart Lane.

Blackburn Rovers vs. Manchester United — 11:15 a.m. ET

The two sides haven’t met in the FA Cup since back in the 1980s, a win for Manchester United, and Sunday’s encounter likely won’t be much a walk in the park for Rovers. Blackburn is fighting for survival in the Championship, making their performance in the FA Cup all the more critical for morale over the second half of the season. However, key suspensions to both Hope Akpan and Elliott Bennett will leave Blackburn shorthanded.

Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils will be missing several key players as well, including Wayne Rooney and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, both of whom are injured. United has done well away from home recently, only falling once in its previous nine encounters away from Old Trafford.