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England name provisional squad for EURO 2016: Rashford, Wilshere in


The English national team have named their provisional squad for the 2016 European Championships.

During a press conference at Wembley Stadium on Monday, Roy Hodgson has named a 26-man squad which will be cut down to 23 for the tournament this summer in France.

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The big storylines to come out of the squad announcement is that 18-year-old Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has been included, while Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere and Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson have shaken off injuries to make the provisional squad.

Speaking of Rashford’s inclusion in a five-man forward pool, Hodgson revealed he has high hopes for the teenager but warned of the challenge ahead for him to get into the final squad.

“He is one of the contenders, of course. The competition for him is quite strong. He will understand that as well,” Hodgson said. “He deserves to be selected in this larger squad and it will be very interesting to see what he can do. We may only get a chance to see that for one week. I am pleased that someone who has had such an outstanding end to the season and he is a young player who I think has a future if he continues to progress the way he has.”

Rashford is yet to win an England cap but has scored seven goals in 17 games since bursting onto the scene for Manchester United in the second half of the season.

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His United teammate Wayne Rooney is England’s captain but Hodgson didn’t commit to whether or not he would be starting against Russia on June 11 in Marseille. He also confirmed that it was a tough decision to leave out Phil Jagielka, Michael Carrick and Leighton Baines and he spoke to all three before making the official announcement.

Hodgson has only selected three center backs, with Tottenham’s Eric Dier listed as a midfielder but he could also slot in at center back if needed.

Asked about his hopes for this summer with this squad, Hodgson was optimistic that his team could provide England with its first major trophy since the World Cup in 1966.

“I’d like to think this squad, with the youth it contains, will have a long future. It is a start in some respects. Whenever you go to a tournament you have to go there with the desire and hope that you’re going to win it,” Hodgson said. “If you were to ask the bulk of the 24 teams taking part, I don’t think you’d find many who will say ‘we are going to make up the numbers and we don’t think we have any chance of doing well.’ They will say, ‘well, it”s happened in the past, nobody expected Denmark in 1992, nobody expected Greece to win a Euros as well, nobody expected Leicester to win the league.’

“Everybody has got to have that hope, everybody has got to have that dream, everyone has go to have that thought in their minds of, who knows? If we really play well, if we really produce our best and play the type of football we can produce, who knows where it will lead us.”

Hodgson revealed he plans to finalize his 23-man squad following England’s friendly against Australia on May 27. The deadline to name his final squad is May 31 and England have three friendlies coming up in the next few weeks against Turkey on May 22, Australia on May 27 and Portugal on June 2. Players from Manchester United and Liverpool will not be available for the opening game due to their involvement in the FA Cup and Europa League final.

On the face of things it seems like Rashford could well miss out on the final squad, while two midfielders from the 11 selected will also be included in the three men who don’t make it. Fabian Delph and Andros Townsend seem to be the two most likely to miss out, but if either Wilshere or Henderson struggle to return to full fitness after injuries then Hodgson will have to think long and hard about putting them on the plane to France.

England have been drawn in Group B this summer alongside Russia, Wales and Slovakia, as they last reached the semifinals of the European Championships in 1996. A year before Rashford was born…

Here’s the 26-man provisional squad in full.

England squad

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Southampton), Tom Heaton (Burnley)

Defenders: Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), John Stones (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool)

Midfielders: Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), James Milner (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Andros Townsend (Newcastle United), Danny Drinkwater (Leicester City), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Ross Barkley (Everton)

Forwards: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)

Sebastian Berhalter signs Homegrown deal with Columbus Crew

Columbus Crew signs Sebastian Berhalter
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The Columbus Crew have signed Sebastian Berhalter to a Homegrown Player deal.

The 19-year-old midfielder is the son of former Crew and current USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter.

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Sebastian played 17 times for the University of North Carolina as a freshman, starting nine of those games. He went 210 minutes in twin extra time matches to close UNC’s season.

Here’s Crew general manager Tim Bezbatchenko, via a team release:

“As a longtime member of the Crew SC Academy, Sebastian is someone who understands the values and ideology of our Club. We are happy to see him join the professional ranks after a successful year at the college level and look forward to his continued development with the Crew.”

Sebastian praised the role of his parents in his development in a video interview. Gregg was a UNC star in his college days before moving to Europe to play for PEC Zwolle, Crystal Palace, and Energie Cottbus amongst others.

“My parents have been very influential on my career,” said the player. “They’ve helped me so much. They’ve always stayed positive to me, but also pushed me in a good way and I cannot thank them enough.”

Sebastian repped the U.S. at the U-16 level. Could dad and he one day join Bob and Michael Bradley as father-son USMNT combos? That’s a long way off and presumes dad turns around the national team, but would be a remarkable achievement.

Manchester United triggers Bailly contract extension

Manchester United triggers Bailly contract extension
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Manchester United has picked up a two-year option on Eric Bailly‘s contract, according to Sky Sports.

The Red Devils now have the giant 25-year-old center back under wraps through the 2021/22 season.

Bailly is nearing full fitness after his latest injury setback, knee and ankle injuries costing him dozens of matches since arriving from Villarreal in 2016. He underwent knee surgery in late July.

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There’s little reason for United not to pick up the option, as Bailly could’ve left for free in the summer and the extension allows for a possible transfer fee.

That said, Bailly has been very good with healthy and in-form, especially in an exceptional debut season at Old Trafford. He has 34 caps for the Ivory Coast, and is nearing the prime age for a center back.

United visits Liverpool at 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday, and Bailly is not expected to play.

The center back may get a chance to get to know Bruno Fernandes, who is being tipped for a $77 million transfer. He likely won’t see Ashley Young, who’s arrived in Milan ahead of a transfer to Inter.

Report: Bruno Fernandes to Manchester United after Lisbon Derby

Manchester United lands Bruno Fernandes
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Bruno Fernandes may get his move.

The 25-year-old Sporting Lisbon midfielder wants a move to Manchester United, and Sky Sports is reporting that the two clubs are close to agreeing on a fee.

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The move will cost $56 million and could escalate to $77 million with incentives, and that it could happen as soon as the end of Friday’s derby between Sporting and Benfica.

From Sky Sports:

Part of the negotiations over a deal for Fernandes included Manchester United not wanting him to play in Friday’s game but the player and Sporting insist that he was going to play in order to say a proper goodbye to the club and the supporters.

United will be crossing its fingers over Fernandes’ health during the 4:15 p.m. ET kickoff is Lisbon.

Sporting is already 12 points off the Champions League places, and 16 off Benfica’s title pace.

Fernandes has been red hot for Sporting, notching 15 goals and 13 assists in 25 appearances, including five and three in five Europa League outings.

He scored 32 times with 18 assists in 2018/19, and could take United’s Top Four push to a whole new level.

Liverpool’s Klopp rips AFCON move, says FIFA needs to step in but won’t

Liverpool's Klopp rips AFCON move
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Jurgen Klopp is furious about Cameroon moving the Africa Cup of Nations to January 2021, something that would hinder the Reds’ likely title defense.

(No, Klopp is not counting his title chickens before they hatch, even if it’s a foregone conclusion).

Cameroon moved the tournament from summer to winter due to its climate, which seems like a decision that could’ve been made ages ago. The nation had hosting rights stripped away for the 2019 tournament, but will host in 2021.

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The Reds could be without Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Naby Keita for the better part of a month should Senegal, Guinea, and Egypt all qualify for the tournament. Joel Matip could be there with hosts Cameroon if the federation is successful in convincing him to return to the international fold.

Klopp went on a lengthy and mostly understandable diatribe against the move. We write mostly because there’s something lost in translation regarding the import of the tournament.

He’s upset at how it will tax his squad and how he keeps the players happy if he needs to add players just to deal with one month of the schedule.

“Do we really want to open this book? I couldn’t respect Africa Cup of Nations more than I do, I like it, I’ve watched it a lot. Difficult circumstances a lot of times,” Klopp said, via The Liverpool Echo. “It is another tournament, there are too many of them. Other thing is it doesn’t help African players. We won’t sell Naby, Mo or Sadio because of it but if we bring someone in, it affects the decision. Normal process. We have to think about that. Players aren’t asked. … FIFA, who should [step in] doesn’t look like being involved. It’s a strange situation. If we want lesser games they will say take less money. I will say, I am ready to do so. Yes.”

He continued.

“For us it’s a catastrophe, If we say (a player) can’t go, he’s suspended. How can the club who pay his salary not decide. If he’s injured and we say he cannot play for us, we have to send him to Africa so they can have a look. We don’t have any say. We just plan the route. These are all things that should not be like this. I speak about it now and no one will listen. The moaner from Liverpool again. It’s a complete waste of time. As long as nothing changes, I will keep saying it. It’s about the players, not me.”

Manchester City (Riyad Mahrez), Arsenal (Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang), and Leicester City (Wilfried Ndidi) are among the many clubs who could lose stars for a month.