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Former Everton, Red Bulls star Cahill makes Australia’s provisional squad

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SYDNEY (AP) Tim Cahill has been included in Australia’s provisional squad for this year’s World Cup in Russia, boosting his prospects of being selected for a fourth World Cup.

Cahill was among 32 players picked in an expanded training squad, announced by coach Bert van Marwijk on Monday, but the veteran forward faces an anxious wait before knowing whether he will make the final cut for Russia.

The preliminary squad will be trimmed to 26 or 27 players ahead of a pre-tournament camp in Turkey later this month before the final 23-man roster is chosen on June 4.

The 38-year-old Cahill is Australia’s all-time leading scorer with 50 goals from 105 international appearances, but he has struggled for form and match time in recent months.

He rejoined English Championship club Millwall in January to improve his fitness but has played a total of just 63 minutes from 10 matches and failed to score any goals, but van Marwijk told a news conference his big match experience was highly valued.

“He is a special case … he is special in everything,” van Marwijk said. “He is 38 and maybe one of the best-ever players for Australia. He is a very good striker.

“He doesn’t play (at the moment), maybe five or 10 or 20 minutes. Also, he has a problem that he is suspended and I have to take a decision whether to take him to the world championship.

“He is not 19 like (Daniel) Arzani – he’s twice as old – but is also a player who can make a difference.”

Arzani, who is regarded as one of Australia’s brightest young prospects after helping Melbourne City win this season’s A-League title, also made the provisional squad. The teenage winger, who is also eligible to play for Iran, could become the youngest Australian to play at a World Cup if he makes the final cut.

There were few shocks in the makeup of the squad with van Marwijk sticking with the experienced core of players who guided the Socceroos through the long qualifying phase although the Dutchman did include one surprise by picking uncapped defender Fran Karacic.

Born and raised in Croatia, Karacic has never set foot in Australia but is eligible to play for the Socceroos because his father is Australian. Van Marwijk said Karacic was picked because Australia has a shortage of quality right backs.

“Everybody knows that the right defending position, I don’t have a lot of choice for that position,” van Marwijk said. “He is already the captain of his team, at 21-years-old.

“He plays only right-back and we don’t have a lot of players in that position … it’s a position we discuss a lot.”

Striker Jamie Maclaren was also recalled to the squad after some strong performances for Hibernian in the Scottish Premiership. Maclaren hasn’t played for Australia since a qualifier against Thailand in November.

Australia is drawn in Group C at the World Cup alongside France, Peru and Denmark.

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Australia squad:

Goalkeepers: Brad Jones, Mitch Langerak, Mat Ryan, Danny Vukovic.

Defenders: Aziz Behich, Milos Degenek, Alex Gersbach, Matthew Jurman, Fran Karacic, James Meredith, Josh Risdon, Trent Sainsbury, Aleksandar Susnjar, Bailey Wright.

Midfielders: Josh Brillante, Jackson Irvine, Mile Jedinak, Robbie Kruse, Massimo Luongo, Mark Milligan, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic, James Troisi.

Forwards: Daniel Arzani, Tim Cahill, Apostolos Giannou, Tomi Juric, Mathew Leckie, Jamie Maclaren, Andrew Nabbout, Dimitri Petratos, Nikita Rukavytsya.

Chelsea needs to wait “48 hours” to assess Mount

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Mason Mount‘s move from the Championship to the Premier League has been nearly seamless.

His adjustment to the Champions League was cut down too quickly to get an understanding of whether it would be too big of a jump.

[ MORE: Match recap | Barkley drama ]

Mount, 20, was chopped down by Valencia’s Francis Coquelin, the former Arsenal man, and had to leave the game after just 16 minutes.

Here’s Frank Lampard, from ChelseaFC.com:

“He’s got an ankle injury but we don’t know how bad it is. We’ll have to assess it in the next 48 hours to see the scale of the injury. It was a shame because he started the game well and it meant we had to make the change early on.”

Mount scored nine times with four assists on loan under Lampard at Derby County last season, and has already chipped in three goals for Chelsea this season.

Lampard turned to Pedro off the bench on Tuesday, but any lengthy absence for Mount will spell more time for American youngster Christian Pulisic.

UEFA Champions League Wednesday preview: Man City, Spurs debut

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Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur begin their UEFA Champions League campaigns on very different results and with very different vibes.

City is coming off a stunning 3-2 loss to injury-hit Norwich City, and is set up in Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk for the third-straight season, a side which beat Pep Guardiola once in four tries between 2017/18 and 2018/19 in the UCL.

[ MORE: UCL Tues. wrap ]

But on Wednesday, Guardiola’s men are going to carry a similar feel to one of his old Barcelona teams, as Pep seemingly will have Fernandinho pull a Javier Mascherano and drop into the back line.

Yes, Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi are Manchester City’s hopes at center back, now that John Stones has joined Aymeric Laporte on the shelf.

“For me as a manager it’s an incredible challenge,” said Pep Guardiola. “But I believe a lot, people don’t know the spirit and resolve to solve this problem. The players going to come back with Dinho, Eric Garcia, Taylor Harwood-Bellis. … It’s happened, but what we are not going to do is complain. We have to have 11 players on the pitch and I like it, to find a solution. For the players as well to find an incredible step forward.”

Spurs, meanwhile, will simply be trying to build on any momentum gained by a 4-0 demolition of Crystal Palace at the weekend, a win which came after manager Mauricio Pochettino begged his side to “re-focus” after a relatively poor start to the season.

Now a bit more relaxed, Spurs head to Greece as the clear favorites against stingy Olympiacos. These are, after all, the finalists of last season’s tournament.

Pochettino won’t be sleeping on the challenge, from The London Evening Standard:

“They have good players and if we are not focused and don’t take our best game we are going to suffer. But last season we played in the final of Champions League, so it’s normal people think before the game, Tottenham is one step above Olympiacos but in the end you need to show it on the pitch.”

Spurs are one of two early kickoffs on Tuesday.

Full UCL Wednesday schedule

12:55 p.m. ET
Club Brugge v. Galatasaray
Olympiacos v. Tottenham Hotspur

3 p.m. ET
Bayer Leverkusen v. Lokomotiv Moscow
Paris Saint-Germain v. Real Madrid
Atletico Madrid v. Juventus
Dinamo Zagreb v. Atalanta
Bayern Munich v. Red Star Belgrade
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Manchester City

American coach Marsch speaks after landmark Champions League day

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Jesse Marsch made his UEFA Champions League debut on Tuesday, a historic first for not just the Wisconsin native but also his country.

Marsch, 45, oversaw Red Bull Salzburg’s 6-2 demolition of Genk, becoming the first American to win a UCL match as manager.

[ MORE: Champions League Tues. wrap ]

“We knew we were going into the match full of confidence,” he said, via the Salzburg site. “We knew too that we could put in a performance of this quality. I wasn’t pleased with a few situations, such as conceding for 3-1. That shows our incredible mentality though as it prompted us to give a few more percent and immediately score two goals.”

The ex-New York Red Bulls manager and RB Leipzig assistant manager got another three goals from incredible 19-year-old striker Erling Braut Haland, who nows has 17 goals in nine matches this season.

“It is an absolute joy to work with this team. We have a lot of players who just know how to battle, and that rubs off on the others. You can see that on the pitch on nights like tonight.”

There will be tougher nights ahead for Marsch, who is in a group with Liverpool and Napoli, but Tuesday was a fine start for the tactician. And it was a banner moment for American coaches abroad, who’ve been led by past and present USMNT coaches Bob Bradley and Gregg Berhalter.

Maybe one day that’ll be Marsch’s title… but it seems like he may have some loftier ground to cover on his path through world soccer.

Klopp: Liverpool made wrong decisions; Penalty also incorrect

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is going to bat for his left back after Andrew Robertson gave away what became the decisive penalty in a 2-0 loss to Napoli in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday.

“I don’t think it’s a penalty,” Klopp said. “What can I say, for me, it is clear and obvious no penalty. He jumps before any contact, we can’t change that.”

[ RECAP: Napoli 2-0 Liverpool ]

For what it’s worth: It sure seemed like both a foul on Robertson and a comical embellishment from Callejon, but we digress.

Liverpool just didn’t have it on the day, like when Sadio Mane played a terrible pass to Mohamed Salah on what could’ve been an easy 1-0 lead.

In the moments they did have it, there was Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret making a splendid save.

“We played a lot of good football but didn’t finish it off. We controlled moments but had not enough chances in the end. We made decisions that were not right and have to accept the result. It was very often the final ball that was not right.”

Also, forgive Klopp if he has stopped enjoying the beautiful country of Italy.