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Bale, Dzeko, Sanchez headline stars on World Cup sidelines

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Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo just made it. Gareth Bale, Edin Dzeko and Alexis Sanchez weren’t as fortunate.

While only 23 of the 32 qualifiers for next year’s World Cup have been determined, there’s already a long list of high-profile players who have missed the cut.

[ MORE: Growing sense of entitlement amongst U.S. soccer culture must stop ]

Here’s a 3-4-3 lineup of some of the biggest names who will be watching the action in Russia from the sidelines:

GOALKEEPER:

Jan Oblak, Slovenia: The most expensive goalkeeper in the Spanish league at Atletico Madrid, the 24-year-old Oblak was included in the last two Champions League squads of the season.

DEFENDERS:

Antonio Valencia, Ecuador: A reliable, hard-to-pass, attacking right back and captain for Manchester United, Valencia plays in midfield for Ecuador.

Virgil Van Dijk, Netherlands: An imposing center back for Southampton, Van Dijk has been targeted for a transfer by Premier League rivals Liverpool and Chelsea.

David Alaba, Austria: This versatile left back has been a regular for Bayern Munich for the past six years.

CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS:

Arturo Vidal, Chile: Part of Chile’s golden generation that helped the team to the 2015 and 2016 Copa America titles, the 30-year-old Vidal retired from his national team after a 3-0 loss to Brazil left Chile out on goal difference.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Armenia: A top assist man at Manchester United, Mkhitaryan is one of the most creative players in the Premier League.

WINGERS:

Arjen Robben, Netherlands: Another Bayern Munich veteran who announced his international retirement after a failed qualification campaign, Robben won the bronze ball award when he helped the Netherlands to the 2010 World Cup final.

Christian Pulisic, United States: A player with the potential to become the U.S. team’s first real international standout, the 19-year-old Pulisic has already broken a series of “youngest” records with Borussia Dortmund and the United States.

FORWARDS:

Alexis Sanchez, Chile: Another member of Chile’s golden generation, Sanchez has been an able scorer wherever he’s gone, from Udinese in Serie A to Barcelona in Spain and now in his fourth season at Arsenal in the Premier League.

Edin Dzeko, Bosnia and Herzegovina: Last season’s Serie A scoring leader at Roma, this old-fashioned center forward is a lethal finisher.

Gareth Bale, Wales: A multi-talented threat for Real Madrid, Bale led Wales to the semifinals of last year’s European Championship – which remains his only major international tournament.

AP Sports Writer Steve Douglas in Manchester, England contributed.

More AP World Cup coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/WorldCup

Moore takes hold of West Brom’s promotion bid

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Darren Moore‘s spell as West Brom caretaker manager couldn’t quite pull off a miraculous run to Premier League safety, but the promise it contained has helped him to the first chance at earning promotion back to the top flight.

West Bromwich Albion announced Moore as its new manager on Monday, with the boss promising his Baggies would play attractive football while also being a side “that’s willing to fight and scrap for every ball.”

[ MORE: No World Cup for Chelsea trio ]

Moore is also happy to carry a flame for minority coaches — called BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) — in England.

“If it does inspire others, I would be extremely proud,” he said. “I don’t just speak on behalf of BAME coaches but the young, aspiring British coaches across the board.”

Moore, 44, only lost one of his six PL matches as WBA boss, winning three times and inspiring many to wonder what would’ve happened had the Baggies’ pulled the plug on Alan Pardew — and Tony Pulis before him — earlier.

A center back in his playing career, Moore spent 18 seasons between a number of clubs including West Brom, Derby County, and Doncaster Rovers. He won promotion as a player twice with West Brom, and again with Derby.

Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan

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BRUSSELS (AP) Belgium left midfielder Radja Nainggolan out of its World Cup squad despite a standout season with Champions League semifinalist Roma.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has long had a difficult relationship with the stormy midfielder. But after being called up for a warm-up game in March against Saudi Arabia, expectations had been that he would be on the 28-man roster announced Monday.

[ MORE: No World Cup for Chelsea trio ]

On top of the troubled relationship, Nainggolan was also the victim of the unparalleled wealth of talent the small nation has produced over the past few years.

Thibaut Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku were all named in the squad, which will be cut to 23 before the World Cup.

Nashville MLS expansion club snares ex-Liverpool CEO Ayre

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Former Liverpool CEO Ian Ayre is moving from Merseyside to the Music City.

The Tennesseean’s Joe Rexrode says Ayre is set to take the reins of Nashville SC as the first CEO in club history when it makes its debut in the 2020 MLS season.

[ MORE: No World Cup for Chelsea trio ]

Liverpool hired ex-EA Sports executive Peter Moore to replace Ayre in 2017 after the latter, 54, spent six years with the club as managing director and then CEO.

From the Tennessean:

“The MLS has huge ambitions to be one of the biggest and leading leagues in the world, and is on that trajectory,” Ayre said. “Both as a soccer fan and an executive in the industry, it’s something I’ve had my eye on because it’s important. … You talk about MLS and its growth, I think it’s becoming easier and will become easier to attract the right talent to something that’s exciting and developing. And if you have a reputation of being involved in a club like Liverpool, you hope that stands for something when you start to try and attract talent.”

The timing of Ayre’s addition hearkens back to that of former Tottenham executive Darren Eales at Atlanta United. If it has the same success, Nashville will be proud.

Report: Lampard interviews twice with Championship club

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Steven Gerrard‘s longtime England midfield mate Frank Lampard could soon be joining him in a management.

While Gerrard is tasked with rebuilding Rangers’ Scottish title push, Lampard’s reported new gig would entail leading Ipswich Town back to the Premier League for the first time since 2002.

[ MORE: No World Cup for Chelsea trio ]

Sky Sports says Lampard has already interviewed twice with Ipswich Town ownership in a bid to earn his first senior management gig.

Lampard, 39, played for Chelsea, Man City, New York City FC, West Ham United, and Swansea in a sparkling 20-year playing career.

Town finished 12th in the Championship, 15 points back of a playoff spot and 19 clear of relegation.