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Wilshere nearing West Ham return; Carroll linked with New England

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Injury-plagued or not, Manuel Pellegrini insists West Ham United must continue to fight for a place in Europe until it becomes mathematically impossible.

[ MORE: Costa suspended 8 games ]

“I always demand more from the players, from myself and from everyone,” Pellegrini said on Thursday. “If you ask if it’s a good season; nine games before the finish we were not fighting against relegation, with an average of five or six players not available. From that point of view, it’s not a bad season.”

Pellegrini visits his former derby rivals Manchester United on Saturday in a must-win if West Ham is to challenge for seventh. The Irons are five points back of that target.

Jack Wilshere is close to returning, with Pellegrini saying the English midfielder has one more U-23 match to go until he dons the senior team kit. Samir Nasri is also out with a muscle injury, while Andriy Yarmolenko and Carlos Sanchez are still a couple of weeks away.

Andy Carroll has undergone ankle surgery. The news of his surgery comes as the injury-plagued striker is linked with a move to Major League Soccer after this summer, with a source telling ProSoccerTalk that New England is a possible landing point for the former Liverpool star.

The 30-year-old has appeared in just 30 matches since the start of the 2017-18 season.

Man City keeps pace via Aguero penalty (video)

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  • Aguero gets PL-best 18th goal
  • Ederson stops sliding Carroll
  • Man City out-attempts Irons 20-2

A Sergio Aguero penalty was all Man City needed Wednesday in a 1-0 defeat of West Ham United at the Etihad Stadium.

City stayed within a point of leaders Liverpool, but is eight points clear of third place Spurs.

West Ham is 10th with 36 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Kevin De Bruyne produced an early chance for David Silva, but Man City’s longtime hero flicked it off the post.

Ederson made a fine save on Andy Carroll as West Ham managed to stay in the match despite an onslaught of Man City attempts.

The Citizens would need a spot kick to find their way onto the scoreboard, though, with Bernardo Silva felled inside a sea of West Ham tacklers in the 18.

Aguero finished his chance to reclaim the Premier League’s lead in goals from Mohamed Salah.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League box scores, schedule, stats ]

FA Cup round-up: Manchester United, West Ham win

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The early set of FA Cup matches is complete, with just two matches headed for replays.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: FA Cup scoreboard ]


Manchester United 2-0 Reading

Juan Mata put the Red Devils ahead, and then gave Alexis Sanchez the green light to slip Romelu Lukaku on goal for a second goal before the break against the relegation-threatened Championship visitors.

[ WATCH: Lukaku’s terrific finish ]

Curacao-born 19-year-old Tahith Chong made his full debut, becoming the 229th academy graduate to play for United.

West Ham United 2-0 Birmingham City

Mark Arnautovic scored in the second minute for the Irons, and for a while it looked like it would be all the Irons would need at the London Stadium. In stoppage time, Andy Carroll scored his first goal since April.

Bournemouth 1-3 Brighton and Hove Albion

As far as aesthetically-pleasing goals go, Anthony Knockaert‘s finish of a back heel pass is among the top examples. Yves Bissouma and Florin Andone also scored for the visitors.

Elsewhere

Sheffield Wednesday 0-0 Luton Town
Shrewsbury Town 1-1 Stoke City
Burnley 1-0 Barnsley
West Bromwich Albion 1-0 Wigan Athletic

Still to come

10 a.m. ET
Bolton Wanderers v. Walsall
Gillingham v. Cardiff City
Brentford v. Oxford United
Everton v. Lincoln City
Chelsea v. Nottingham Forest
Derby County v. Southampton
Accrington Stanley v. Ipswich Town
Fleetwood Town v. AFC Wimbledon
Middlesbrough v. Peterborough United
Aston Villa v. Swansea City

12:30 p.m. ET
Newcastle United v. Blackburn Rovers
Crystal Palace v. Grimsby Town
Bristol City v. Huddersfield Town
Blackpool v. Arsenal
Norwich City v. Portsmouth

Transfer gossip: $91m for Arsenal target; Chelsea man in Pulisic swap?

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English youngsters? After signing Jadon Sancho, Borussia Dortmund wants all of them.

Well, not quite, but Goal is reporting that BVB asked for Callum Hudson-Odoi while discussing the potential transfer of Christian Pulisic to Chelsea.

[ MORE: Pogba thankful for Mourinho ]

The report says that Chelsea wasn’t moved by the idea and is hoping to sign Hudson-Odoi to a new deal, but the idea of losing him for nothing could become scarier as January moves nearer.

Bayern Munich is also interested in the player, who turned 18 in November and has a goal and an assist in the Europa League amongst nine senior appearances for Chelsea.

Lille winger Nicolas Pepe is going to cost at least $91 million, according to director Luis Campos, a bit more than the $56 million Arsenal was reportedly ready to spend on the 23-year-old.

The right winger has 12 goals and seven assists in 18 Ligue 1 matches this season, and has scored against Paris Saint-Germain, Lyon, and Marseille. He also has three goals in 10 caps for the Ivory Coast.

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers is reportedly reaching back to his Premier League days in a bid to improve his strike force.

The Hoops may chase either Jermain Defoe or Andy Carroll in a move which would sure to take the fight for an eighth-straight Scottish championship.

Celtic has a one-point lead on Rangers and a three-point lead on Aberdeen, having played one less game. The club is also the highest-scoring team in the league, but with all due respect: either, when healthy, would light up the scoreboard in Scotland.

West Ham’s Carroll, Reid face three months out injured

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LONDON — West Ham pair Andy Carroll and Winston Reid have suffered setbacks in their recovery from injuries and face three more months out.

Former England striker Carroll and New Zealand defender Reid returned to London from a preseason training camp in Switzerland to undergo follow-up operations on injuries suffered last season.

“Andy played and scored in Sunday’s match (against FC Winterthur) but is still reporting some discomfort in his ankle and further scans have revealed that he requires some minor surgery to provide more strength and stability to the area,” Richard Collinge, head of the club’s medical department, said on the club website on Thursday.

“Winston has been suffering some swelling around the knee injury that he sustained at Swansea last season and he too is in need of explorative surgery to clean up the area.

“We have decided that this is the best course of action to ensure that both players have a chance of returning to full fitness as soon as possible.”

Manager Manuel Pellegrini said that in the absence of the senior pair, the club will look to add players to the five they have already signed in this offseason.