Hodgson names England squad to face Ireland and Brazil

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Roy Hodgson is a man that likes continuity.

You can tell that from the England squad he has selected for the upcoming friendlies with the Republic of Ireland and Brazil.

The England manager has selected many familiar faces with the only debutant in the squad being Reading’s goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.

Reading’s 23-year-old ‘keeper has impressed with a string of fine performances but is only expected to be third-choice for the games against Ireland at Wembley on May 29 and the trip to Rio de Janiero to face Brazil on June 2.

Hodgson also spoke about the captaincy situation as Steven Gerrard will miss the two friendlies due to a shoulder injury. Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney are vice-captain’s, however Hodgson is contemplating handing Ashley Cole the armband when he wins his 100th cap against Ireland at Wembley.

Hodgson also spoke briefly about Wayne Rooney’s inclusion in the squad, after the England forward handed in a transfer request at Manchester United.

“His situation at Manchester United is between him and the club,” Hodgson said. “There is no doubt in my mind about his commitment to England. I am sure I’m going to be dealing with a highly motivated player who is ready to compete in the next few games.”

England’s 65-year-old manager also spoke about Rio Ferdinand’s decision to retire from international soccer and praised the legacy that Ferdinand and John Terry have left behind, for England’s younger defenders to follow.

“People like Phil Jagielka have been waiting in the wings for a long time,” Hodgson said. “It is time for those youngsters or players waiting in the wings to step up and show that they can do for the international team what Rio and John Terry did for so long. And did so well.”

England squad for games against Ireland (May 29) and Brazil (June 2)

Goalkeepers: Ben Foster, Joe Hart, Alex McCarthy.

Defenders: Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Phil Jagielka, Glen Johnson, Phil Jones, Joleon Lescott, Kyle Walker.

Midfielders: Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Frank Lampard, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott.

Forwards: Andy Carroll, Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck

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

whufc.com
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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.