Ryan Mason

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James says he was not knocked unconscious in Wales draw

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Head injury awareness again rose to the forefront in the 1-1 draw between Wales and Croatia in Cardiff when Daniel James went down after colliding with a pair of opponents.

The Manchester United winger looked to almost sure have been knocked unconscious when Domagoj Vida’s knee appeared to tap the back of his head while challenging for a ball in the air. Vida went toppling over the back of teammate Borna Barisic who ducked out of the way, but it was James who many were concerned for as he lay motionless on his back with his eyes closed.

Yet James was allowed to come back onto the field and completed the full 90 minutes, sparking criticism from injury advocates and fans who were concerned for James’ safety on the field, at potential risk for even more serious consequences should he indeed have suffered a concussion.

After the game however, despite what fans saw as James lie on the turf, the 21-year-old insisted he was not knocked unconscious. “I’m fine,” James claimed after the match, speaking to Sky Sports. “I think he just caught me in the head but I didn’t get knocked out fortunately.”

Wales boss Ryan Giggs backed up the decision as well, calling James’ motionless display “a bit of acting.”

“The medical staff went over, he was compos mentis and we did all the checks at half-time and he was fine,” Giggs said, referring to the latin phrase for “of sound mind.”

If James was indeed faking unconsciousness, it’s natural to wonder if he should face a fine from UEFA for looking to con referees, and in the process possibly confusing the independent neurologists on site assigned to assess head injuries.

ESPN broadcaster Taylor Twellman, who has been outspoken over the past few years advocating for head injury awareness after his career was cut short by concussions, took to Twitter to criticize Wales for allowing James back into the game. Twellman, who was on the ESPN call of the broadcast with Ian Darke, said more needs to be done to prevent players from being able to force their way back onto the field, lest someone be killed by second impact syndrome.

Former Hull City player Ryan Mason, who was forced to retire after a serious skull fracture saw him fighting for his life, was also seriously concerned about the incident.

Interestingly enough, later in the match just seconds after the second half restart, young Wales midfielder Ethan Ampadu was whalloped from behind by Croatia’s Bruno Petkovic in a wild and reckless aerial challenge. Petkovic’s elbow went clattering into the back of Ampadu’s head, and the was left writhing on the ground holding his head. The Chelsea youngster was taken off the field and immediately replaced by Joe Morrell, while Petkovic was lucky to escape with just a yellow card.

Recently retired Ryan Mason receives standing ovation at Hull match

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Midfielder Ryan Mason, who was forced to retire after suffering a fractured skull over a year ago, received a warm ovation at KCOM Stadium before Hull City’s match on Friday against Sheffield United.

Mason, just 26 years old, announced his retirement last week on the advice of medical professionals after over a year of rehabilitation from his injury in an attempt to return to playing. The Tottenham youth product was injured in an aerial clash with Chelsea defender Gary Cahill in January of 2017, and did not return to action.

“Ryan has sought the guidance of numerous world-renowned neurologists and neuro surgeons who have all advised that a return to competitive football is not advised,” Hull City said in a release after Mason’s retirement was announced. “Ryan would like to put on record his thanks to all at the club who have aided his recovery to this point and he his is indebted to them for their support and compassion over the past 12 months.”

Before Hull City’s match against Sheffield, an important one with Hull battling relegation, Mason was brought out on the pitch and received a warm reception from the patchy crowd.

As the club did after his injury, they put a message on the screen with the Twitter hashtag #OneRyanMason.

Mason picked up his first job since retirement over the weekend, commentating on Sky Sports in studio for a Championship match between Aston Villa and Preston North End, which ended in a 1-1 draw. “It’s been a bit of a whirlwind – it’s been crazy. I’ve had a lot of messages and it’s been a lot to take in,” Mason said on the broadcast. “I’ve been quite positive throughout and I’m looking to the next chapter now.”It’s difficult [to accept]. For the last year I’ve been working as hard as I can to get back on a football pitch. But when you’re long-term health comes into it then it’s a lot easier. There is more to life than football.

Southampton sacks Claude Puel after one season

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Southampton will begin its search for a new manager after a surprising decision came in on Wednesday regarding its current boss.

[ MORE: A look at first 10 fixtures for top-6 Premier League sides ]

The Saints announced that the club has opted to sack manager Claude Puel after the Frenchman coached the Premier League side for just one season.

[ MORE: Hull’s Ryan Mason training again after head injury ]

In 53 matches in charge, Puel went 20-13-20 in all competitions with Southampton — who finished eighth in the final PL table.

The club released the following statement following Puel’s release.

“Everyone at Southampton would like to express our thanks to Claude for his hard work and commitment this year. The highlight of the season was a memorable day at Wembley in the EFL Cup Final, a day our fans will always treasure.

“We wish Claude well for the future.

The search for a new management team is underway. We are confident that we will find the right fit in line with the long term vision of the club.”

Hull’s Ryan Mason training again after horrific head injury

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It was likely the worst head-on collision since Petr Cech‘s accident back in his Chelsea days, but thankfully Ryan Mason is training once again with Hull City.

The 26-year-old posted a video to Twitter on Wednesday as the Tigers midfielder looks to regain full health following Mason’s January 22 collision with Chelsea’s Gary Cahill.

In Mason’s first season with the Tigers, the Englishman tallied two goals in 20 Premier League appearances after joining the club from Tottenham last summer.

Mason and Hull will play in the Championship next season after the club was relegated from the PL during the 2016/17 season.

PL Sunday preview: WHL’s final game; West Ham-Liverpool

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A selection of bounties on the line on Sunday: Hull City could be officially relegated from the Premier League; Liverpool’s hopes of a top-four finish; Tottenham Hotspur’s first second-place finish since 1963, and one final fond memory at White Hart Lane.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Crystal Palace vs. Hull City — 7 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com

Swansea City’s win over Sunderland on Saturday was extremely bad news for Hull: the Tigers now sit four points adrift of the Swans in the first place outside the relegation zone, meaning a loss to Palace on Sunday would see Marco Silva‘s side head back to the Championship after one season in the PL (Palace currently sit one place ahead of Swansea, level on 38 points). If there exists an ideal side for Hull to face in this moment, it’s Palace, who have lost three straight league games and slipped right back into the relegation battle. A win or draw on Sunday would secure their PL status for another season. A loss, on the other hand, would make things very interesting ahead of next Sunday’s finale.

INJURIES: Crystal Palace — OUT: Mamadou Sakho (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Yohan Cabaye (knock), James Tomkins (ankle), Scott Dann (knee) | Hull — OUT: Lazar Markovic (ankle), Ryan Mason (head), David Meyler (knee)

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — Arsenal alive and fighting for 4th ]

West Ham United vs. Liverpool — 9:15 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com

At the other end of the table, Liverpool’s scoreless draw with Southampton left the door wide open for Arsenal, who now sit just a single point back of Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds in the race for fourth. A trip to the London Stadium, where West Ham shocked Tottenham last weekend, is hardly the ideal fixture given the precarious position in which they currently find themselves.

“We all know about the situation and the players want to qualify, want to play in this fantastic tournament, as I want,” Klopp said at his Friday news conference. “The players we are talking to, because they are all good players, I know they have offers from other clubs (and) maybe they play Champions League or not, or whatever.

“It’s important — how it is always important — for the club. Everybody knows it’s a lot of money in the Champions League, it’s not only the sports challenge, even though it’s really exciting, it’s also the money you can earn and as a football club we have to do this too.”

INJURIES: West Ham — OUT: Mark Noble (abdomen), Cheikhou Kouyate (wrist), Diafra Sakho (back), Andy Carroll (groin), Pedro Obiang (ankle), Michail Antonio (hamstring) | Liverpool — OUT: Sadio Mane (knee), Jordan Henderson (foot); QUESTIONABLE: Roberto Firmino (lower body)

[ MORE: Fulham, Reading level after leg 1 of promotion playoffs ]

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Man United — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

After standing tall in North London for 118 years, Sunday’s clash between Tottenham and Manchester United will be the final time a ball is kicked at White Hart Lane. Beginning next week, demolishing will begin to make room for the completion of the club’s brand new, 61,000-seat stadium. We already know Spurs will be in the UEFA Champions League next season, but a win on Sunday would clinch a second-place finish for the first time in 54 years (a draw would all but do the same, with Manchester City needing to overturn 14 goals in the goal differential column).

“(Sunday’s game) will be special for the people who love Tottenham, and at the same time it will be exciting to go to the new stadium,” Mauricio Pochettino said. “But the soil and the smell of White Hart Lane will still be there.”

INJURIES: Tottenham — OUT: Erik Lamela (hip), Harry Winks (ankle); QUESTIONABLE: Danny Rose (knee) | Man United — OUT: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (knee), Marcos Rojo (knee), Luke Shaw (foot), Marouane Fellaini (suspension), Timothy Fosu-Mensah (shoulder), Ashley Young (hamstring)