Seven players England must call up for debuts

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The English national team will soon be back in action for the first time since reaching the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup and Gareth Southgate will have some intriguing decisions to make for his 23-man squad.

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Will he stick with the vast majority of the players who led the Three Lions to a fourth-place finish in Russia this summer? Or will he freshen things up and bring in a few new faces?

If he does the latter for the UEFA Nations League games against Spain and Switzerland in September, then there are plenty of emerging candidates who he could have a look at.

Below is a closer look at seven players who deserve to be called up to Southgate’s latest squad.


Phil Foden (Manchester City)
The star for England’s U-17 side which won the World Cup last year, Foden is a regular in Man City’s matchday squad and often comes off the bench. His ability to hold the ball and play defense-splitting passes is something that England missed massively at the World Cup. In the Adam Lallana mould, but just 18 years old. Some may say this call is too early but Foden’s talent has been nurtured by Pep Guardiola and if he’s ready to contribute regularly for City, surely he can play a part for England.


Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)
A former Man City star who starred alongside Foden at the U-17 World Cup, Sancho had really made a name for himself at Borussia Dortmund. He made 12 appearances for Dortmund’s first team last season and scored once as the 18-year-old can play anywhere across the front line. An exciting talent who can dribble past defenders and use his electric pace and power to cause havoc, Sancho is getting invaluable experience at German giants Dortmund at such a young age.


Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)
Although he played for the Republic of Ireland youth teams, Grealish pledged his allegiance to England some time ago and the mercurial playmaker was a star for Villa last season as they were so close to promotion to the Premier League. At 22 years old, Grealish has matured on and off the pitch but still has a nasty streak which seems to bring out the best in him. Steve Bruce was adamant to keep hold of him as Tottenham wanted to sign Grealish all summer long and like Foden and Sancho, he can hold the ball, surge forward and has a real eye for a pass.


Alex McCarthy (Southampton)
There’s no doubt that Jordan Pickford is England’s undisputed No.1 following his heroics at the World Cup, but with Nick Pope out with a long-term injury and Jack Butland battling with Stoke City in the Championship and Joe Hart clearly out of Southgate’s thoughts, Southampton’s Alex McCarthy will surely be included. The former Crystal Palace and Reading goalkeeper had a sensational end to the 2017-18 season as he helped save Saints from relegation and he’s kept up that good form at the start of 2018-19. Many believe he was England’s fourth-choice goalkeeper over the summer and he could well have elevated himself to at least third-choice.


James Maddison (Leicester City)
A regular for England’s U-21 side over the past few years, Leicester’s new $35 million winger has looked the part in his first few games as a Premier League player after arriving from second-tier Norwich City over the summer. Maddison, 21, already has a goal to his name in the PL and his pace out wide and ability to cut inside and make things happen will intrigue Southgate. England have plenty of players in Maddison’s mould with Raheem Sterling, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and others springing to mind, but given his form for the U-21s and his start to the season for Leicester he may just be rewarded.


Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)
After battling back from multiple injuries, Wilson has started the season in great form for Bournemouth. The powerful striker has scored twice already, including a wondergoal at West Ham, and his ability to hold the ball up and make intelligent runs into the channels show he can slot in and replace Harry Kane, if England need that. At this point he is playing regularly, and delivering, in the Premier League and that’s not something the likes of Marcus Rashford is doing.


Demarai Gray (Leicester City)
Another Leicester player who is thriving under Claude Puel‘s ability to get the best out of youngsters. Gray is still only 22 years old and with Riyad Mahrez gone, he now has the chance to be the main attacking threat for the Foxes. His well taken equalizer at Southampton on Saturday proved he is capable of composure in the box as well as scoring stunners. Gray has scored six goals in 18 appearances for England’s U-21 side and it seems like the time is now for him to step up to the seniors.


Honorable mentions: Ben Chilwell (Leicester City, Declan Rice (West Ham), Conor Coady (Wolves), Danny Ings (Southampton)

Erling Haaland injury: Manchester City assess star

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Manchester City star Erling Haaland left the Norway squad during the international break after suffering a groin injury.

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Haaland, 22, joined up with Norway for their EURO 2024 qualifiers but has been sent back to Manchester City for treatment.

The Norwegian striker has been in stunning form in recent weeks, scoring nine goals in his last three games in all competitions for City (including five against RB Leipzig in the Champions League and a hat trick against Burnley in the FA Cup) before the break.

He has scored 42 (yes, forty two) goals in all competitions for Man City this season.

However, Pep Guardiola and Man City now face an anxious wait as an injury to Erling Haaland is the last thing they wanted before a pivotal final few months of the season as they chase the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League treble.


What is the latest update?

Norway’s team doctor, Ola Sand, gave an update on Haaland’s injury.

“We hoped that this was just a familiarity that would carry over to Saturday, but after doing tests and examinations yesterday it became clear that he will not make it to the games against Spain and Georgia,” Sand said. “It is better that he receives medical follow-up at the club.”

Norway face Spain on Saturday and Georgia next Tuesday, so it seems like Haaland is in a race to be fit for Man City’s games after the international break.


Which games could he miss?

After the international break Man City are playing in the first game of the weekend as they host Liverpool on Saturday, Apr. 1 at the Etihad Stadium.

It seems like Haaland could be struggling to be fully fit for that game, and maybe even the trip to Southampton on Apr. 8, so Pep Guardiola may choose to rest him for their massive UEFA Champions League quarterfinal first leg against Bayern Munich on Apr. 11.

Given the form Haaland is in right now, it will be a blow for City if he does miss the next few games but the last thing they want is any long-term damage. Plus, it’s helpful to have the likes of World Cup winner Julian Alvarez in reserve to step in for Haaland.

Ever Wonder what happened to Leicester City’s title-winning team?

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Our ‘Ever Wonder’ series will run throughout the 2022-23 Premier League season and focuses on key stories behind the history, tradition and culture of all 20 Premier League clubs.

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Have you ever sat there and wondered why certain chants became iconic at a club? Why a team has a certain nickname? Why they play in those colors? How they were founded? Yep, us too.

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This season we will be digging deep to tell the stories of the rich history, tradition and culture from around the Premier League and give you the answers to things you want to know more about.


Ever Wonder where the Leicester title-winning team is now?

With odds of 5000-1 to win the Premier League title in 2015-16, Leicester City pulled off one of the greatest shocks in sports history.

But have you ever wondered ‘hey, what is that Leicester team up to now? What happened to them?’

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Club legends and captains

After captaining them to FA Cup glory and being the main man in recent years, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel left Leicester in 2022 and is now starring for Nice in France.

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Right back Danny Simpson, center backs Robert Huth and Wes Morgan and left back Christian Fuchs have all retired with the latter playing for Charlotte FC in MLS in 2022.

Morgan lifting the Premier League trophy alongside beloved manager Claudio Ranieri, who is still coaching in Italy in Serie B with Cagliari, is an image that is in sporting folklore.


Superstars move on to even more glory

In midfield, N’Golo Kante has gone on to win the Premier League again and Champions League, among other trophies, with Chelsea. Internationally – he started every game for France as they won the World Cup in 2018.

His midfield partner at Leicester – Danny Drinkwater – also joined Chelsea, but is currently without a club after loan moves across the Premier League, Turkey and the Championship.

Winger Riyad Mahrez is a star at Manchester City, winning three more Premier League titles, while on the other wing, Marc Albrighton left Leicester on loan in January 2023 for West Bromwich Albion in the Championship but is still contracted to the club.

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Veterans still plugging away and one continues to party…

Striker Shinji Okazaki is playing in Belgium for Sint-Truiden, while fellow forward Leonardo Ulloa retired after spells in Mexico and Spain.

Meanwhile – veteran striker Jamie Vardy is of course still at Leicester, and will forever go down as a club legend.

He played a key part in their FA Cup triumph and recent European exploits, and won the Premier League Golden Boot award three years ago. He never misses a party.

As for the other key contributors off the bench, Demarai Gray is at Everton, Jeffrey Schlupp is at Crystal Palace, Ben Chilwell is at Chelsea and is England’s second-choice left back, Richie de Laet is still playing at Royal Antwerp, Andy King is at Bristol City and Nathan Dyer has retired.

Wherever they are now, this group of players will always be known as the team who pulled off one of the greatest upsets the sporting world has ever seen.

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Manchester City vs Liverpool: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Manchester City host Liverpool in a huge game for both teams as they battle for the title and a top four finish respectively.

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Pep Guardiola’s Man City can momentarily cut the gap to leaders Arsenal to five points but there are question marks swirling around the fitness of goalscoring machine Erling Haaland heading into this game. City are looking for a three-peat of Premier League titles and five in the last six seasons, but Arsenal don’t look like they’re going to slip up anytime soon. So City can’t afford to either. They’ve won six in a row in all competitions, scoring 23 and conceding once in that run. We all know they love to kick on at this point of the campaign, so let’s see if they can do it again.

As for Liverpool, well, it has been one step forward and one step back pretty much all season long for Jurgen Klopp’s side. After their 7-0 shellacking of Manchester United, they then lost at Bournemouth to infuriate Klopp and their fans further. The front three of Salah, Nunez and Gakpo are all clicking through the gears nicely but Liverpool have to become more consistent and dominant games in midfield if they’re going to close the gap to the current top four. They’ve had success against City in recent years as their contrasting style of play match up well but this seems like a different, more fragile, Liverpool this season.

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Here’s everything you need for Manchester City vs Liverpool.


How to watch Manchester City vs Liverpool live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 7:30am ET, Saturday
TV Channel: Peacock
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines & in-form players to watch

The fitness of Haaland is obviously a huge concern for City as he suffered a groin issue and did not play for Norway over the international break and returned to Manchester for treatment. If he isn’t fit to start then expect Julian Alvarez to come in. Elsewhere, City are flying with Jack Grealish, Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gunodgan having a big role to play with Phil Foden out following his Appendectomy. As always, Kevin de Bruyne is the main man and will relish this chance to cut Arsenal’s lead atop the table.

Liverpool just can’t find consistency right now. They have improved defensively but they are a real Jekyll and Hyde team. Jurgen Klopp isn’t a fan of that and showed his frustration after their defeat at Bournemouth, which was their last Premier League game and was way back on March 11. He’s had a few weeks to stew over that loss and it will be intriguing to see what plan he has come up with. For this game as earlier this season Liverpool beat Man City 1-0 at Anfield by playing a front four which pinned City in.


Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Erling Haaland (groin) | OUT: Phil Foden (appendix removed)

Liverpool team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Calvin Ramsay (knee), Stefan Bajcetic (groin) | QUESTIONABLE: Luis Diaz (knee), Darwin Nunez (ankle), Kostas Tsimikas (rib), Thiago Alcantara (hip), Joe Gomez (undisclosed)



Chelsea vs Aston Villa: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Chelsea and Aston Villa clash at Stamford Bridge on Saturday and a win for the visitors will move them above Chelsea in the table.

STREAM LIVE CHELSEA v ASTON VILLA

Graham Potter’s Chelsea were pinned back before the international break as they drew 2-2 at home against Everton after leading twice. However, they are unbeaten in their last five games in all competitions and have reached the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals. Things are looking a bit better for the Blues in their 3-4-3 formation and the pressure has eased on Potter slightly as players continue to return from injury. A win against Villa this weekend will keep their slim hopes of a top four finish alive but a top six finish is probably as good as it will get for them this season.

Unai Emery has done a phenomenal job at Villa with the Spanish coach leading them from a relegation scrap to a quest for European qualification within just a few months. Villa are resolute defensively and have a clear playing style as they love to catch opponents out on the counter and they did that brilliantly in their 3-0 win against Bournemouth last time out. With three wins in their last four, can Villa continue their surge and push for a top six finish?

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Here’s everything you need for Chelsea vs Aston Villa.


How to watch Chelsea vs Aston Villa live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 12:30pm ET, Saturday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & in-form players to watch

Chelsea have so many players stepping up in recent weeks but Joao Felix and Kai Havertz have really got going in attack. The duo are scoring goals, creating chances and Chelsea look much more confident when they get into the final third. Enzo Fernandez and Benoit Badiashile have both slotted in seamlessly following their January moves. Yes, Chelsea are still a long way back when it comes to the top four but they are they kind of team who can go on a long unbeaten run and they certainly have so many options with a massive squad of players all pushing to start in this new fluid 3-4-3 system.

Villa’s recent success has been built on solid defense and Emiliano Martinez in goal and Tyrone Mings at center back have been back to their best. Ollie Watkins leading the line always causes problems and midfield creators and wingers always seem to be ready to counter and cause a surprise. Emery has done a remarkable job at Villa and it will be a lot of fun to see how close they can get to a top six finish this season.


Chelsea team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Thiago Silva (knee), Armando Broja (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Raheem Sterling (hamstring), Mason Mount (abdominal), Edouard Mendy (shoulder), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (back), Cesar Azpilicueta (head), Reece James (thigh), Wesley Fofana (thigh)

Aston Villa team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Jed Steer (calf) QUESTIONABLE: Philippe Coutinho (thigh), Matty Cash (calf), Boubacar Kamara (ankle), Leander Dendoncker (hand)