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Manchester United friendly canceled
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Man Utd friendly canceled after Stoke manager’s positive coronavirus test

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Manchester United’s preparation for the Premier League season took an odd turn on Tuesday.

The Red Devils were scheduled to face Championship side Stoke City in a friendly, but did not play the Potters on the pitch following a positive coronavirus test from the visitors.

[ MORE: New PL schedule ]

Stoke’s players arrived to United’s Carrington base on Tuesday but never got the chance to play after Potters boss Michael O’Neill, the former Northern Ireland boss, tested positive for COVID-19.

From The Manchester Evening News:

Stoke immediately informed United’s medical staff of the news who ensured that United’s star players were locked down in a ‘safe area’ well away from their Stoke counterparts, who were then rushed out of the training ground.

Premier League clubs are only allowed friends against clubs within a 90-minute drive of their ground.

While the missed opportunity hampers United, Stoke now has to prepare for the Championship campaign with its manager in isolation.

Fortunately, the Potters have the experience of working under a boss remotely given training during the coronavirus pause. Stoke is three points above the drop zone with nine matches to play.

Joe Allen to miss Euro 2020 with ruptured Achilles

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Wales international Joe Allen will miss Euro 2020 after rupturing his Achilles tendon in Stoke City’s 5-1 win over Hull City, the club confirmed on Saturday.

Allen went down on the stroke of halftime after a challenge from Dan Batty saw the Stoke midfielder stretchered off the field.

“It’s not good news unfortunately, it looks like Joe has ruptured his Achilles which would obviously rule him out for the rest of the season,” Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill said after the match. “I’m devastated with that because he’s been fantastic since I came to the Club. Not only in terms his importance to the team and his importance to the Club, but what he has to look forward to in the summer as well at EURO 2020 with Wales. It’s really disappointing news to hear.”

The 29-year-old midfielder debuted for the national team in 2009 and has been a mainstay in the Wales midfield since first earning a starting role in 2011, with 53 total caps for the national team. He played nearly every minute of Wales’ run to the Euro 2016 semifinals in what was the country’s first appearance at a European final tournament.

“He’s been terrific and is a terrific player,” O’Neill said. “He’s everything you want in a player, he takes responsibility and as a leader, without being particularly loud and vocal, he leads by example in terms of the way he plays the game. Things like that you don’t want to see happen to any player, but particularly a lad like Joe, so I’m a bit upset and disappointed, as well as gutted for the player.”

Allen has been an absolute workhorse for Stoke City since joining from Liverpool in 2016. The former Swansea City youth product has made at least 36 league appearances for the Potters in every season since joining the club, accumulating at least 2,900 league minutes in every season. He racked up a whopping 4,132 minutes last Championship campaign, which is just eight minutes shy of a perfect full season of 46 90-minute performances.

Spurs recall USMNT center back Carter-Vickers from Stoke loan

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Tottenham Hotspur has recalled USMNT center back Cameron Carter-Vickers from his loan at Championship side Stoke City.

The loan stint started off with promise, and CCV played in 10 of 11 games while starting nine of them between Sept. 14 and Nov. 4.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Carter-Vickers made just two appearances, both at right back, since manager Michael O’Neill took over on Nov. 8.

He turns 22 on Tuesday, and would seemingly be a candidate for another loan or a sale. A report earlier this month said Spurs would want $5 million for the American.

Carter-Vickers has four first team appearances for Spurs, but 83 between loan stops at Swansea City, Ipswich Town, Sheffield United, and Stoke.

He has eight USMNT caps, but only an 18-minute cameo under Gregg Berhalter.

Jack Clarke and Kazaiah Sterling were also recalled, and will join CCV at Spurs HQ on Jan. 2.

Reports: Bojan, Ola Kamara up for MLS moves

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DC United is making a huge push for the Eastern Conference and beyond.

The Washington Post’s Steven Goff says the Black-and-Red may be bringing Ola Kamara back to Major League Soccer from the Chinese Super League.

When it comes to MLS, Kamara has simply scored goals. The 29-year-old has bagged 48 in three MLS seasons spent between Columbus and the LA Galaxy.

Goff reports that the transfer fee to bring Kamara back Stateside is $2.5 million, and that DC also has to send a quarter of a million dollars to Colorado for the top spot in the allocation order.

[ MORE: Messi suspended ]

Multiple reports out of Quebec say that the Impact are looking to make a huge splash in attack, again, adding Bojan Krkic to the squad.

Bojan, 28, is four seasons removed from his 7-goal Premier League campaign with Stoke City.

He’s had trouble firing since that point, with just six goals between three seasons spent between Mainz, Alaves, and Stoke.

Seeing what Carles Gil has done with New England, though, you cannot help but think Bojan has the skill set to light the East on fire.

Both teams are amongst eight still very much in the race to finish first in the East. Kamara to DC is a near-automatic hit. If Montreal can clear room to add Bojan to an attack with Saphir Taidir, Orji Okwonkwo, and the returning Ignacio Piatti, then look out for the Impact.

Longtime Premier League striker Peter Crouch retires

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At 38 years old, Peter Crouch has finally decided to call time on his career, hanging up his boots after a fabulous 19-year career that saw him attain numerous highs. Literally.

Crouch, known for his height and the finishing abilities that came with it, came up through the Tottenham youth system, but never made it initially with the London club, instead making his professional debut in the Championship (then known as the First Division) in 2000 with Queens Park Rangers. He went on to play for Portsmouth before making his Premier League debut with Aston Villa in 2002.

Eventually, the journeyman would play for Norwich City, Southampton, and Liverpool before returning to Tottenham in 2009 to play two full seasons at his boyhood club. At Liverpool, Crouch would reach the Champions League final in 2007, a game where Rafa Benitez decided to leave Crouch on the bench instead of start him despite his contribution of six goals during the European campaign, a decision which Crouch has admitted is still a difficult memory as the Reds fell 2-1 to AC Milan.

After leaving Spurs in 2012, Crouch would spend eight seasons at Stoke City, by far his longest spell at any club. He left Stoke City this past winter after 202 Premier League appearances with the Potters, playing the last half of the season at Burnley before calling time on his career.

All told, Crouch made 467 Premier League appearances across his career, scoring 106 goals and popularizing his robot dance celebration. He would also attain 42 caps for the England national team, scoring 22 goals for the country, including his only World Cup goal in 2006 against Trinidad & Tobago. He also appeared as a substitute in the 2010 World Cup, including a 12-minute substitute appearance against the United States in the opening group stage game. Oddly enough, Crouch never appeared in a Euro match for England, as the country did not qualify for Euro 2008, the only competition that took place during the meat of his international career.

In his retirement announcement, an article with the Daily Mail, Crouch says he had hoped to play until he was 40 but said “circumstances over the last couple of seasons have made me realize that this is the right thing to do.”

Crouch admitted in his announcement he had grown weary of being a late-game bench option. “I will be 39 in January but I am physically fit and could have carried on. What I didn’t want to be was someone who was thrown on to have balls smashed up to them.”

Still, the Spurs youth product says he never could have dreamed where his career would take him.

“Football has opened up avenues that I never thought were possible when I started scoring goals in the Hayes and District league as an Under 10. Football, simply, made my dreams come true. I think back to when I was 17. I was a trainee at Tottenham then but there were 10 forwards in front of me, blocking my route to the first team. They loaned me out to Dulwich Hamlet then I went to IFK Hassleholm in Sweden. Let’s be honest – you would not have taken odds on me making it then. If you had told me at that point I would go on to play for England 42 times and score 22 goals, play for Liverpool in a Champions League and FA Cup final and score the goal that put Tottenham back in the European Cup for the first time in four decades, I would have had you locked up.”

Crouch, known for his beaming smile and happy-go-lucky attitude, has built a strong off-the-field image and seems primed for a strong post-football media career. He has built a brand with his self-titled podcast and regular written appearances in the Daily Mail.