Don’t expect to see Stuart Holden with the United States before September

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When Mr. Smiley Stuart Holden returned two months ago for Bolton, the United States national team fanbase went into a frenzy speculating about whether the creative spark plug could come back to the American line up any time soon.

The answer, it seems, is no. And we’ll probably have to wait even longer than you might have otherwise expected. The Bolton Wanderererererers plan on bringing the fragile midfielder back sloooooooooooowly.

ESPN’s Doug McIntyre did the hard work on this story, talking to Bolton News chief football writer Marc Iles: “Before Stu made his return at Sunderland I was told that even though he would be back on first-team duty he was effectively still in rehab, his recovery would still need to be closely managed and not to expect him to feature every week. That information has proved correct.”

The 27-year-old Holden has played exactly 94 minutes since returning to action. That’s not a lot. The club continues to believe in him — manager Dougie Freedman is talking contract extension beyond the end of this season — but the team doesn’t want him getting injured again. Slower is better. “It may well be that he doesn’t get back into full flow until preseason,” Iles says.

That would have two consequences: 1) It would mean Holden would almost certainly not be ready for June’s World Cup qualifiers and 2) It gives credence to McIntyre’s theory that Jurgen Klinsmann would leave Holden with Bolton instead of calling him to July’s Gold Cup. If that’s the case, we’re talking no Stars and Stripes for Holden until September.

And, honestly, that’s probably best. The United States doesn’t need Holden at 60 percent or 90 percent. They need him at 100 percent, the player he was before his run of injuries, the one on the brink of claiming a starting spot. If that takes until September, let it take until September. He’ll have plenty of time to show off in Brazil. Um… right?

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

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West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

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In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.