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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)

FOLLOW LIVE, Gold Cup: USMNT closes out group v. Panama

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It’s a fully-changed starting XI for the U.S. Men’s National Team as it closes out the group stage against Panama at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Omar Gonzalez and Matt Miazga start together in the backline, Jozy Altidore returns to the starting lineup up top, and Jordan Morris and Jonathan Lewis feature on the wings alongside Altidore. Ten of the 11 players now ply their trade in MLS, including the Gonzalez, who recently moved to Toronto FC.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT takes on Panama in Kansas City]

Hit the link above to follow along for the next two hours, and check back on PST for a full recap and in-depth analysis after the final whistle.

Must-See Goal: Wayne Rooney v. Orlando City

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I’m going to go out on a limb and say it. Wayne Rooney just scored the most amazing goal in Audi Field’s young history.

In the 10th minute of D.C. United’s match against Orlando City SC on Wednesday evening, Rooney noticed Orlando’s Brian Rowe straying way off his line. And so, with an audacious but accurate attempt, Rooney let fly from 65 yards and SCORED. Just check this goal out below.

[FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT v. Panama]

Rooney took advantage of a crazy bounce and with his literal first touch, unleashed a thunderbolt that Rowe couldn’t catch up to. It automatically becomes one of the top contenders for the MLS Goal of the Year, and should make it on every top ten countdown this evening and tomorrow.

Benfica: Atletico Madrid make $143 million bid for Felix

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The legend of Joao Felix appears to have reached full market value potential.

The 19-year-old Portuguese striker is coming off a breakout year for Benfica, and now the Portuguese giants have received an impressive $143 million offer from Atletico Madrid for Felix. The club confirmed the offer in a statement on its website, stating it was analyzing the deal. Felix has a $136.5 million release clause in his contract, but it appears the additional $7 million is in processing costs.

[READ: Kroos wants to retire at Real Madrid]

Felix was outstanding at Benfica last year, scoring 15 goals with seven assists in 26 league games and three goals and one assist in five Europa League game. Felix has already made his international debut for Portugal.

If confirmed, Felix would become the fifth-most expensive transfer in world history, and the second-most expensive transfer for a teenager behind Kylian Mbappe.

AFCON: Nigeria 1st team through to round of 16 at African Cup, joined by host Egypt

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CAIRO (AP) Former champion Nigeria became the first team to reach the last 16 at the African Cup of Nations after defender Kenneth Omeruo‘s second-half goal delivered a 1-0 win over Guinea on Wednesday.

The Nigerians were unimpressive in the first half in Alexandria but lifted their game in the second. Alex Iwobi‘s rasping shot was pushed away by Guinea goalkeeper Ibrahim Kone and Ahmed Musa almost set up Odion Ighalo on a counterattack.

The former Chelsea defender Omeruo did what the forwards had not been able to do when he beat Kone with a glancing header at the near post off Moses Simon’s corner in the 73rd minute.

Nigeria, which won the title in 2013, has two wins from two games in Group B. It beat Burundi 1-0 in its first match and now needs a draw from its last fixture against Madagascar to finish top and stay in Alexandria for the last 16.

There was more good news for Nigeria when Samuel Kalu came on as a substitute near the end. The midfield player collapsed at a training session the day before the first game, suffering from dehydration, and was hospitalized.

Coach Gernot Rohr rested captain John Obi Mikel against Guinea.

Elsewhere, Egypt also confirmed a place in the knockout stages with a 2-0 win over the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ahmad Elmohamady and Mohamed Salah each scored in the first half to lead the Pharoahs to victory, the hosts second-straight win in the competition.

In the other match of the day, Uganda tied Zimbabwe, 1-1.