Darron Gibson tears ACL on international duty, could return to Everton by April

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Everton midfielder Darron Gibson is set to undergo surgery after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

The injury occurred in a first-half challenge while on international duty with the Republic of Ireland during their World Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan in Dublin on Tuesday.

A club statement from Everton did not note a specific time-line for Gibson to return. But, ever the optimist, Toffees manager Roberto Martinez said he hopes to see the 25-year-old return before the end of the season.

“Yesterday’s scans showed that his ACL is ruptured, but the knee reacted well and nothing else is damaged,” Martinez said. “We look forward to seeing Darron back, hopefully this season. Taking into consideration what it could have been, it was positive news.”

What ‘it could have been’ is a scan that revealed additional damage like a torn meniscus, MCL, PCL or some combination thereof. Of course, recovery from an ACL tear is no picnic for a footballer. While Everton will provide Gibson with state-of-the-art care to help fast-track the recovery process, achieving match fitness from such an injury is generally considered to take at least six months.

Assuming Gibson undergoes surgery in the next week, returning to action in mid-April is a possibility. Given Everton’s new found depth in the center of the park, however, it shouldn’t surprise if the Toffees shut him down for the rest of the season.

Manchester City loan Gareth Barry has fit in seamlessly at Goodison Park and already appears to be forging a strong partnership with fellow new-boy James McCarthy. The versatile Leon Osman gives a different look in the holding role while Ross Barkley – currently holding his own in the attacking midfield role – could also drop back if circumstances should require.

Troubled by a different knee problem throughout August and September, Gibson only had featured in a single Premier League match for Everton, coming on as a 62nd minute substitute in the 3-1 loss at Manchester City.

So while Gibson’s injury comes as a blow to Everton, it is not one that will cause great panic throughout the club.

Salah returns to Egypt starting lineup

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A familiar name returned to the starting lineup for Egypt on Tuesday afternoon.

Egypt named star Mohamed Salah in its starting XI, after resting Salah in Egypt’s 1-0 defeat to Uguruay on June 15. Salah has been recovering from an injured shoulder that he suffered during the UEFA Champions League final in late May.

Salah makes his World Cup debut now against the host nation, Russia, at 2:00 p.m.

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Senegal hold off late charge, defeat Poland on controversial goal

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Two matches, two upsets.

For the second time on Tuesday, an underdog took down a favorite as Senegal defeated Poland, 2-1, with the game-winning goal decided in controversial fashion.

In the 60th minute, M’baye Niang was waved onto the field by the referee while the ball was still in play in the middle of the field, and Niang raced on to the end of a Gregorz Krychowiak backpass that stunned the Poland defense. Niang arrived at the pass a second quicker than goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, allowing the Senegal winger to score into an empty net.

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The VAR checked the goal but it was allowed, as it was a subjective decision of the referee to allow Niang back on the field following an injury, and not a clear and obvious error.

Senegal took the lead in the first half on the counter attack. With Poland slow in transition, Sadio Mane found Idrissa Gueye in space at the top of the box. After two touches, Gueye fired a strike to the far post in the 37th minute that took a wicked deflection off Poland defender Thiago Cionek and left Szczesny helpless.

Poland struggled all game against the pace and physicality of Senegal and the Lions of Teranga were very smart in controlling possession and switching the field, forcing the Poland squad to tire quickly.

Krychowiak did breathe some life into the game with a header goal off a free kick in the 86th minute, but despite some poor clock management from Senegal, its defense was able to hold off Poland’s last-ditch chance to tie the game, going level with Japan on three points at the top of Group H.

Report: Blatter to attend Portugal vs. Morocco as guest of Putin

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Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter is still in the middle of an eight-year ban from the organization he once ran.

But that doesn’t mean he’s going to miss out on some of the World Cup action, live in Russia.

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BBC journalist Richard Conway reported early Tuesday that Blatter is set to watch Portugal vs. Morocco in Moscow as a guest of Russian president Vladimir Putin. The 82-year-old would normally not be able to sit in the presidential box due to his FIFA ban, though he likely could attend matches with a regular ticket like the vast majority of soccer fans.

Just four years ago, Blatter was president during the 2014 World Cup, one that was marred by corruption scandals in addition to the corruption scandals surrounding the World Cup bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

His reign of power at FIFA finally came to an end on June 2, 2015, when he resigned following an embarrassing month for FIFA in which many of its members were arrested in a joint-raid between the Swiss authorities and the FBI.

Blatter was eventually handed an eight-year ban from FIFA’s ethics committee for an “unauthorized payment” of $2 million from Blatter to Michel Platini, the former France star and FIFA vice president who was also handed an eight-year suspension.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Fekir negotiations back on; Chelsea waiting on transfer targets; and more

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Could Liverpool get its star attacking midfield target after all?

That’s what seems to be the case, as the agent for Lyon and France midfielder Nabil Fekir told French TV channel LCI Monday evening that negotiations aren’t over between Liverpool and Lyon.

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“He didn’t sign because um… it is not over! This is not the end of the story,” Fekir’s agent, Jean-Pierre Bernes reportedly said.

It was just two weeks ago when Lyon president Jean-Michael Aulas stated that Fekir, Lyon’s captain, would remain with the club for the upcoming season, after negotiations with Liverpool fell through. According to the Liverpool Echo, the Reds wanted a second opinion on a previous knee injury, and had balked at the $70 million price tag.

But now it appears Liverpool and Aulas could still be in conversations to try and find a mutually accepted fee.

At the same time, stirring up transfer drama is in Bernes interest, as it could drive other teams into the race to sign Fekir and raise his transfer fee, meaning more money to him, Fekir (if he gets a cut) and Lyon. Watch this space for more to come during and after the World Cup.

Here’s some more transfer rumors from across the Premier League and Europe:

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