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Klopp has analysed ‘half Saints, half Luton’

Jürgen Klopp was asked about a few different subjects. On how he has prepared for the match this weekend he said the analysts had had to look at Luton as well as Southampton.

I thought [Ralph] Hasenhuttl did an exceptional job [at Southampton]. If they showed anything it was attitude, they were highly motivated. We always expect a motivated opponent but there’s not a lot of time [for Jones] to change a lot. We have analysed them half Saints/Luton.

On Trent Alexander-Arnold’s England inclusion, he said: “[Trent] was very pleased about the news … I’m very happy for him. I heard Gary Neville said something [about Trent]. But he’s now 24 and won quite a few finals, important games where you have to defend against world-class players. He was always there, defending well. I don’t know why we have this discussion.” He then spoke about having only seven players at the World Cup, saying: “We would usually have Diogo [Jota] as well. I’m happy about the number we have for our pre-season training. Luis [Díaz ] is back running outside [which is] really positive. It’s our last game for a long time and that’s why we want to finish on a high.”

And on Ibrahima Konaté’s getting called up to a very good France World Cup squad, he said: “He was very good before, we can’t say he learned everything here! He came back in time for the World Cup. It’s worked out really well and he deserves it.”

Afternoon. Jürgen Klopp is currently giving his thoughts on Liverpool’s opponents tomorrow, Southampton, who have a new manager in Nathan Jones. I’ll update you on his opinions shortly. In the meantime here’s a Liverpool-related view from reader Admir Pajiæ:

“Here is unpopular opinion: Thiago is basically a Veron. He is a brilliant playmaker who signed for an English club that didn’t need one.”

I can see where you’re coming from Admir – Liverpool’s strongest midfield was the brawny Wijnaldum-Fabinho-Henderson trio. Thiago is a brilliant footballer, though at Liverpool he has often seemed less than the sum of his very talented parts. Perhaps injuries haven’t helped and the system perhaps isn’t best suited to him, either.

Time for a spot of lunch so I’ll hand the blog over to Gregg Bakowski for a while.

Serbia name World Cup squad

Now it’s time for Serbia to reveal their hand.

Serbia’s all-time top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic, who is nursing an ankle injury, was named by coach Dragan Stojkovic in their 26-man squad for the World Cup in Qatar on Friday. Fulham striker Mitrovic, who missed their Premier League defeat to Manchester City last weekend and is a doubt for Sunday’s game against Manchester United, has bagged 50 goals for his country and is in the squad along with Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic.

The duo, who have scored 17 goals between them for their clubs this season, are expected to lead the line for Serbia at the Nov. 20-Dec. 18 tournament with Fiorentina’s 24-year-old Luka Jovic waiting in the wings. Serbia will be captained by Ajax Amsterdam’s Dusan Tadic, who has 90 caps for the national team, scoring 18 times.

Their midfield will also be led by Lazio’s versatile Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who has six goals in 35 appearances for the national team.
Predrag Rajkovic is the most experienced goalkeeper in the squad but Torino’s Vanja Milinkovic-Savic, who has six caps, started in four of their six Nations League matches earlier this year.

Serbia are in Group G alongside Brazil, Switzerland and Cameroon. Serbia, who have never moved past the group stages, take on five-times champions Brazil in their opening group game on Nov. 24.
They will first play a friendly match with Bahrain in Manama on Nov. 18 before flying to their base in Doha a day later. (Reuters)

Goalkeepers: Marko Dmitrovic, Predrag Rajkovic, Vanja Milinkovic-Savic
Defenders: Stefan Mitrovic, Nikola Milenkovic, Strahinja Pavlovic, Milos Veljkovic, Filip Mladenovic, Strahinja Erakovic, Srdjan Babic
Midfielders: Nemanja Gudelj, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Sasa Lukic, Marko Grujic, Filip Kostic, Uros Racic, Nemanja Maksimovic, Ivan Ilic, Andrija Zivkovic, Darko Lazovic
Forwards: Dusan Tadic (captain), Aleksandar Mitrovic, Dusan Vlahovic, Filip Duricic, Luka Jovic, Nemanja Radonjic

If you hadn’t noticed, Spain are going to the World Cup without Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea and Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara. Imagine being that blessed in midfield that you can do without Thiago! He’d surely get into any other squad heading to Qatar. At least there’s still one World Cup winner in the family: nowhere near as talented dad, Mazinho, who lifted the trophy with Brazil in 1994. Different sorts of players I guess. Anyway, more here from Reuters on the manager’s thinking.

Luis Enrique declined to comment on the players who were left out, but the absence of veterans like De Gea, Thiago and Barcelona defender Marcos Alonso points to the manager’s preference to go all-in with Spain’s new generation of talent.

De Gea has fallen out of favour with Luis Enrique who said in March he “wanted to test other goalkeepers” and Thiago saw his role diminish with the rise of Barca teenagers Pedri, 19, and 18-year-old Gavi.

“Youth gives you freedom because you are not yet aware of the consequences,” Luis Enrique said. “Yet, most of the youngsters that are with us are already in high-level teams. The bar that I’m setting is infinity. My goal is to compete in every game. There’s no one outside of Spain who rules out Spain as a candidate to be among the best.”

On a weekend where Nathan Jones had expected to welcome Rotherham to Kenilworth Road, the former Luton boss will now be heading to Anfield as manager of Southampton.

Talking about his first few days at St Mary’s, the 49-year-old Welshman said: “We have to make small steps and we have to make them quickly. All I’ve done is address them and ask them for a few key things. I can’t do ground-breaking work in a day because of the game on Wednesday (Southampton beat Sheffield Wednesday in the Carabao Cup on penalties) and the amount of people who played.

New Southampton boss Nathan Jones.
New Southampton boss Nathan Jones. Photograph: Matt Watson/Southampton FC/Getty Images

“Yesterday was a recovery day and I only get today to work with them. It won’t be some sort of categorical shift in how we play, but I hope it will be an uplift in energy and that they work for the club and for me. Anfield is one of the toughest places in Europe to go, but what a great start. You can be scared or excited by it. You can be motivated by it, and I’m definitely one of those.”

Jones says he has had a “whirlwind week” travelling up and down the country and opened up on his family connections with Southampton at his first media conference. His wife’s great-grandfather played for Southampton and all her family are supporters of the club.
Jones laughed: “So there’s zero pressure. My wife’s dad has already been giving me tips, so he’s been blocked. I can’t have that! But, seriously, it’s a wonderful connection for that family.”

(PA Media)

A bit more on that Spain World Cup squad from AP.

Twenty-year-old Barcelona forward Ansu Fati was included in Spain’s squad for the World Cup on Friday. Ansu has not played for Spain since making his fourth appearance as a teenager in October 2020 shortly after breaking the record for Spain’s youngest scorer. His spectacular start for Spain and Barcelona was cut short by leg injuries.

Besides Fati, there were no other surprises when Spain coach Luis Enrique announced his 26-man squad. The former midfielder, who played in three World Cups, will rely on a young team in Qatar, including Barcelona midfielders Pedri Gonzalez (19) and Gavi Paez (18). “We are going to war in Qatar,” Luis Enrique said.

Luis Enrique guided a similar Spain squad to the semi-finals of last year’s European Championships. Spain’s players will travel to Jordan on Monday, where they will play a friendly against that country’s national team on November 17. They will then fly to Doha, where the team will have its base camp during the World Cup. Spain will play their opening match at the World Cup against Costa Rica on November 23. The 2010 champions will also face Germany and Japan in Group E.

This is a lovely story about Wales. And, yes, those bucket hats are a nod to the Stone Roses.

May I also recommend Jonny Owen’s ‘Together Stronger’ on the iPlayer.

Uruguay include Cavani in World Cup squad

Another World Cup squad to peruse – Uruguay. Can Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez and former Reds striker Luis Suarez cause havoc? Edinson Cavani is also named although the former PSG and Manchester United striker is not fully fit.

(Reuters) Uruguay have gambled on the recovery of Ronald Araujo in naming the Barcelona defender in their 26-man squad for the World Cup in Qatar, while Valencia striker Edinson Cavani also gets the green light despite a recent injury scare. Araujo, a linchpin of the Uruguayan defence, underwent thigh surgery after an injury while on national team duty in September and has been making a steady recovery, the country’s soccer federation chief said on Thursday.

The inaugural World Cup winners have gone for a mix of youth and experience, including the ageing Luis Suarez, Diego Godin and Cavani in what are almost certain to be their last appearances at soccer’s showpiece event. The 35-year-old Cavani has netted four times in his seven league games for Valencia this season but faces a race against time to recover from an ankle injury with less than two weeks to go before Uruguay’s opener with South Korea.

Uruguay, who also meet Portugal and Ghana in Group H, have included Real Madrid’s Federico Valverde and Tottenham Hotspur’s Rodrigo Bentancur in the midfield as well as Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez and Giorgian De Arrascaeta of Flamengo among the forwards.

Goalkeepers: Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Sergio Rochet (Nacional), Sebastian Sosa (Independiente)
Defenders: Jose Maria Gimenez (Atletico Madrid), Sebastian Coates (Sporting CP), Diego Godin (Velez Sarsfield), Martin Caceres (LA Galaxy), Ronald Araujo (Barcelona), Guillermo Varela (Flamengo), Jose Luis Rodriguez (Nacional), Mathias Olivera (Napoli), Matias Vina (Roma)
Midfielders: Lucas Torreira (Galatasaray), Manuel Ugarte (Sporting CP), Matias Vecino (Lazio), Rodrigo Bentancur (Tottenham Hotspur), Federico Valverde (Real Madrid), Facundo Pellistri (Manchester United), Nicolas De La Cruz (River Plate)
Forwards: Agustin Canobbio (Athletico Paranaense), Facundo Torres (Orlando City), Giorgian De Arrascaeta (Flamengo), Maxi Gomez (Trabzonspor), Luis Suarez (Nacional), Edinson Cavani (Valencia), Darwin Nunez (Liverpool)

After a massive eight years of hurt since winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, is it Germany’s time again? Analysis here in our hot-of-the-press team guide.

Back to the Premier League and Everton manager Frank Lampard will target attacking reinforcements in January as he sees to find a solution to their goalscoring problems. The Toffees have managed a paltry 11 goals in 14 Premier League games this season.

Injury-plagued striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin is currently dealing with three issues and while the hamstring problem sustained in last weekend’s defeat against Leicester will keep him out of Saturday’s trip to Bournemouth, a previously dislocated shoulder and, more significantly, a knee injury from the start of the season are ongoing issues. Everton have scored just 11 goals in 14 Premier League matches – their top scorer is Anthony Gordon with three – and it is an area which Lampard knows needs to be addressed.

“We are certainly considering it in the squad,” said the former midfielder when asked whether attacking signings were a priority in January. “When we looked at the (summer) window I knew we had to strengthen throughout the squad in different areas and the priority was to stop conceding and be more solid through midfield. It (attack) may be the next step, considering we haven’t had Dominic as well for a big portion of this season so far, to give ourselves more options in an attacking sense to help the squad.

“Leicester (last weekend’s 2-0 defeat) is a prime example: it was tightly-contested, 50-50 possession, they have got some really good players and a threat and we missed two really big chances and they scored two amazing goals. Those things in both boxes can be really critical.”

Calvert-Lewin has managed just 339 minutes of football – and completed 90 minutes just once – so far after a knee injury on the eve of the season sidelined him for two months. Lampard hopes the break for the World Cup will give them chance to sort finally sort his issues.

“The hamstring is a small injury, it is a 10-day injury as such which is slightly irrelevant now. The shoulder was a whack he took against Newcastle (a month ago) and he had a recurrence against Fulham. He has been strapped up a lot and it was something which was looked at by a specialist yesterday and doesn’t need any surgery. He has been getting through with some issues but the knee is probably the most prominent injury that we want to get right, which is a similar to what he had before and it’s been aggravated so this period gives us time to get it back right. We hope the break comes at a good time for him and we expect him back for Wolves on Boxing Day.”

(PA Media)

Spain and Netherlands announce World Cup squads

The World Cup squad announcements keep rolling in. Spain and the Netherlands are the latest countries to reveal their 26-man line-ups. Remember, if England finished second in their group, they’ll play the winners of Group A and there’s a strong chance that could be Virgil van Dijk and co.

Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal included injured Barcelona forward Memphis Depay and uncapped teenager Xavi Simons in his 26-man squad for the World Cup, but left out veteran goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen.

Depay has not played since limping off during the Netherlands’ Nations League match against Poland on Sept. 22, and has played less than 150 minutes for Barcelona this season. But Van Gaal had already said his top scorer would be certain of a place as long as there was a chance of him playing during the tournament.

Xavi Simons, 19, has made a strong impression since his move from Paris St Germain to PSV Eindhoven this summer, scoring eight goals in 13 league matches. Van Gaal sprung a surprise in goal by leaving out 33-year-old Cillessen, who rejoined his old club NEC Nijmegen from Valencia this summer in the hope of reviving his international career.

Goalkeepers: Justin Bijlow (Feyenoord), Andries Noppert (Heerenveen), Remko Pasveer (Ajax Amsterdam)
Defenders: Nathan Ake (Manchester City), Daley Blind (Ajax), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Denzel Dumfries (Internazionale), Jeremie Frimpong (Bayer Leverkusen), Matthijs de Ligt (Bayern Munchen), Tyrell Malacia (Manchester United), Jurrien Timber (Ajax), Stefan de Vrij (Internazionale)
Midfielders: Steven Berghuis (Ajax), Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Davy Klaassen (Ajax), Teun Koopmeiners (Atalanta Bergamo), Marten de Roon (Atalanta Bergamo), Xavi Simons (PSV Eindhoven), Kenneth Taylor (Ajax)
Forwards: Steven Bergwijn (Ajax), Memphis Depay (Barcelona), Cody Gakpo (PSV), Vincent Janssen (Antwerp), Luuk de Jong (PSV), Noah Lang (Club Brugge), Wout Weghorst (Besiktas).

Spain coach Luis Enrique named this 26-man squad:

Goalkeepers: Unai Simon (Athletic Club), Robert Sanchez (Brighton & Hove Albion), David Raya (Brentford FC).
Defenders: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea FC), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Eric Garcia (FC Barcelona), Hugo Guillamon (Valencia CF), Pau Torres (Villarreal CF), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Jordi Alba (FC Barcelona), Jose Gaya (Valencia CF).
Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (FC Barcelona), Rodri Hernandez (Manchester City), Gavi (FC Barcelona), Carlos Soler (Paris St Germain), Marcos Llorente (Atletico de Madrid), Pedri Gonzalez (FC Barcelona), Koke Resurreccion (Atletico de Madrid).
Forwards: Ferran Torres (FC Barcelona), Nico Williams (Athletic Club), Yeremi Pino (Villarreal CF), Alvaro Morata (Atletico de Madrid), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Pablo Sarabia (Paris St Germain), Dani Olmo (RB Leipzig), Ansu Fati (FC Barcelona)


More details on Sade Mane’s injury and his inclusion in Senegal’s World Cup squad.

Senegal coach Aliou Cisse is confident Mane could recover in time to play at the tournament. He said Senegal had sent the Senegalese federation’s doctor to examine Mane on Thursday and had been told he would not require surgery. ”That’s very good news and we now have the chance to try and get him fit for the tournament. We now have two weeks to observe and see how the injury reacts to treatment,” Cisse said. “I prefer to keep him in the squad because he is such an important part of us.”

The coach used the example of Watford attacker Ismaila Sarr, who had been injured going into January’s Africa Cup of Nations finals, but was included in the squad and recovered after the first round to contribute to Senegal’s success in the tournament. “We will do all in our power to ensure we can recover Mane in time to play,” Cisse added.

Cisse kept faith with the majority of the squad that won the Cup of Nations in Cameroon but did include Monaco defender Ismail Jakobs and strikers Nicolas Jackson (Villarreal) and Ilimane Ndiaye (Sheffield United), who earned their first caps after World Cup qualification was secured in March. “The players chosen correspond with our vision and philosophy. They are competitors of a high level,” said Cisse, who had his contract as coach extended by a further two years on Thursday.


Story from last night. The Danish Football Association (DBU) said that Fifa had rejected Denmark’s request to train at the World Cup in shirts with the words “human rights for all” on them.

Ben Fisher

Ben Fisher

Nathan Jones has been installed as the new manager of Southampton and first up for the former Luton coach is… a trip to Anfield. Ben Fisher says Jones has earned a top-flight chance.

Paul Gascoigne has been having a word with PA media following the announcement of the England World Cup squad…

Paul Gascoigne hopes the England players will gel as a team at the World Cup – rather than just counting on one of them to make the difference in Qatar. Gareth Southgate’s squad open their campaign against Iran and will then take on the United States before meeting Wales in the final Group B fixture. Gascoigne reflected on his own World Cup experience 32 years ago in ‘Italia 90: Four weeks that changed the world’, which will will air on Sky Documentaries from November 13.

Tottenham midfielder Gascoigne had never started a competitive international, so was something of a controversial selection for Sir Bobby Robson’s squad. Gascoigne, though, took centre stage in Italy as England built momentum from a slow start to go on and reach the semi-finals, where they were beaten on penalties by West Germany in Turin. The likes of James Maddison, Jack Grealish, Jude Bellingham, Mason Mount, Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka will all be hoping to make an impact in Qatar. Gascoigne feels it will be important how well they can all work together as a unit which will determine how far the Three Lions can go.

“We have got some quality players there (in the squad), but we are talking now individual players,” Gascoigne told the PA news agency. “You have got to look at a team player – I was fortunate, because in 1990 and then at Euro 96, we were a team. Today’s teams have got a quite a few individual players, but it is whether you gel together, that is more important than anything else.

“In 1990, I was so proud of the players that didn’t play because when we scored, they were all up celebrating, there was nobody who sulked if they were not playing – some of them went there and never got a game, but they were still behind us, which is what the players are going to need more than anything. I was just 23 and the other players were coming into their prime, like Bryan Robson, John Barnes, Chris Waddle, Peter Beardsley, Gary Lineker, Terry Butcher, Peter Shilton, Stuart Pearce – they were unbelievable. So I was fortunate to be amongst all them and they just let me get on and enjoy myself, and of course Bobby Robson was a brilliant manager.”

As well as drawing praise for his mesmerising performances to help drive England on through the knockout stages of Italia 90, Gascoigne also captured the hearts of the nation watching back home during the semi-final. After being shown a yellow card for a challenge which appeared to make minimal contact on Thomas Berthold, so ruling him out of the final should England have progressed, the young midfielder struggled to hold back his tears.

“Even to this day, I still don’t think I touched him,” said Gascoigne, 55. “It wasn’t just the fact I was going to miss the final – I didn’t want to be selfish in that way because (in) the last 20 minutes, I gave my all. It was heartbreaking to get the second yellow card after going so far (in the tournament), having done so well and really enjoyed myself. (Everyone) saying that seeing my tears changed the game around (in England) is a nice feeling – but it was certainly a shock getting back home and seeing all the fans, when it was just ‘wow’.”

Newcastle’s Callum Wilson is heading to the World Cup but he may not be available for Saturday’s Premier League clash against Chelsea.

(Per PA Media) Newcastle boss Eddie Howe has saluted Callum Wilson’s resilience after the striker was called up to England’s World Cup squad. The 30-year-old has battled his way through a series of injuries, including two cruciate ligament ruptures, to make it into the party for Qatar.

Howe, who signed him for Bournemouth back in 2014, said: “It’s an amazing thing for him individually and I’m sure for his family. Callum has had a difficult career, it’s not always been about the successes. He’s had huge successes and he’s risen from the lower leagues to the Premier League and now to the national squad at a World Cup. It’s been a brilliant thing to witness at first hand for me.

Newcastle’s Callum Wilson has been named in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad.
Newcastle’s Callum Wilson has been named in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad. Photograph: Richard Lee/REX/Shutterstock

“Then when you see how it’s been achieved, you see it’s been through dedication, consistency in his work, a really positive mindset. Even sometimes when he would get injured, his first instinct was always, ‘I’m going to come back better’ and then he put the work in to come back better, so it’s not just talk with Callum, he actually delivers. He’s got a way of scoring goals, a uniqueness about him, so I’m delighted for him and I hope that he can go and I hope he can make real impact.”

Wilson, who won his last cap in 2019, is facing a race to be fit for his club’s final Premier League game before the World Cup break, against Chelsea on Saturday evening, after struggling with illness in the last week. He came off at half-time in Sunday’s 4-1 win at Southampton feeling the after-effects and missed the midweek Carabao Cup victory over Crystal Palace.

Asked if he would be available, Howe said: “We’ll wait and see. He’s been training separately from the group this week. He had an illness, so he’s been away from the group. He’s been working well but I need to make a decision on whether he’s fit enough to play.”

We’ve reached Costa Rica in our World Cup 2022 team guides. Makeweights? Well, let’s not forget 2014 when they somehow topped a group featuring England, Italy and Uruguay before reaching the quarter-finals.

Four Armed Forces personnel will take charge of the League One fixture between Cambridge United and Bolton Wanderers on Remembrance Weekend.

For the first time, the Royal Air Force, British Army and Royal Navy will all be represented during the match at the Abbey Stadium on Saturday.

The RAF’s Sergeant Darren Drysdale will be the referee, supported by his two assistant referees – the Army’s Corporal Declan O’Shea and Captain Steve Finch. The Royal Navy’s Chief Petty Officer Scott Jackson will be the fourth official, completing a team with almost 100 years of combined military service.

The pre-World Cup conspiracy theories are starting.

Michael Gibson emails in with this: “I saw your earlier comment re Southgate having kittens when Harry Kane contests 50-50s against Leeds. I bet Brenden Aaronson has been primed by Greg Berhalter to leave one in on Kane or Eric Dier if he gets the chance. Actually the reverse might also be true.”

Yeah, and this bloke I know reckons he knows a bloke, who’s friends with a guy that works for Match of the Day who reckons Aaronson and Callum Wilson are best mates so crocking Kane makes perfect sense.

Time, dear readers, for YOUR help (pointy finger emoji).

How well will your team perform at the World Cup? What is the mood like at home? Whether you’re cheering on one of the favourites or supporting an underdog, share your hopes and expectations with us by filling out the form in the article below.

Here’s Barney Ronay’s take on England’s World Cup squad.

“This is not to say that England have an obvious champion squad. But it is the best squad Southgate could have picked, one that on the face of it offers no space to carp or rage at talent squandered, favouritism applied.

“A first XI of Jordan Pickford in goal, Kieran Tripper, John Stones, Harry Maguire (who will play, and who is also more suited to the sedentary rhythms of England football) and Luke Shaw in defence; the Rice-Phillips-Bellingham trio, plus Southgate’s favoured front three of Kane-Sterling-Foden … this looks pretty good.”

“We’re on our way, we are Gareth’s 26…”. Okay, it doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as 1982 but Southgate’s squad are nearly on their way. Will they get it right? This time? Here’s the story and squad if somehow your missed it. And below it a link to see Dave Watson, Steve Foster, Joe Corrigan et al recording their smash No.2 hit. Fun fact: Joint writers, Chris Norman and Pete Spencer of Smokie, had written “Head Over Heels in Love” for Kevin Keegan in 1979.

Sadio Mane named in Senegal World Cup squad

Breaking news: Sadio Mane shall go to the ball – but how fit is he? It was always likely Senegal would do everything to patch him up although maybe this has echoes of Keegan and Brooking in ‘82. Perhaps he can recover during the group stage before returning in the last 16 for a likely clash with England if my When Saturday Comes wallchart prediction works out. Here’s the Reuters report.

Sadio Mane has been named in Senegal’s squad for the World Cup in Qatar despite injury concerns after he was hurt playing for his German club at the weekend.

Sadio Mane has been named in Senegal’s World Cup squad despite injury fears.
Sadio Mane has been named in Senegal’s World Cup squad despite injury fears. Photograph: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

The 30-year-old striker, whose decisive penalty kicks won both the Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup qualification for his country this year, suffered an injury to his right fibula in Bayern’s 6-1 win against Werder Bremen and misses this weekend’s clash against Schalke.

But coach Aliou Cisse included the team’s talisman when he named his 26-man squad at a news conference in Dakar on Friday

Manchester United made it through to the last 16 of the Carabao Cup with a 4-2 win over Aston Villa last night, Qatar-bound Marcus Rashford getting the hosts’ second. Here’s Jamie Jackson’s match report.

In bonkers scheduling news, the fourth round ties are being squeezed in between the World Cup final (December 18) and the resumption of the Premier League (December 26). Manchester City kids/reserves v Liverpool kids/reserves is the standout tie. Here’s the draw.

Wolves v Gillingham
Southampton v Lincoln City
Blackburn Rovers v Nottingham Forest
Newcastle v Bournemouth
Manchester City v Liverpool
Manchester United v Burnley
MK Dons v Leicester
Charlton v Brighton

Let’s kick off with a weekly staple. Gonna miss you my friend.

“Maddison will hope to sign off from domestic duty by helping Leicester beat West Ham. Standing in his way, though, will be an international teammate: Declan Rice. This is a huge game for West Ham’s captain. David Moyes’s side are two points above the bottom three after stinking the place out against Crystal Palace last weekend and they could do with an inspirational midfield display from Rice.”


And for the final time until Boxing Day, here we go with another round of Premier League fixtures.

Sounds weird doesn’t it but due to a World Cup in Qatar being plonked in the middle of the season, when the Fulham v Manchester United game finishes at around 6.20pm on Sunday, the Premier League table will be frozen in time for (checks calendar) 43 days.

While Premier League managers strive to leave the standings looking as favourable for them as possible – Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace could actually go into the break in sixth if an awful lot went their way – World Cup-bound bosses will spend the weekend chewing finger nails.

Senegal manager Aliou Cisse is already cursing that star man Sadio Mane may not be fit after picking up an injury playing for Bayern Munich this week so Gareth Southgate will be having kittens every time Harry Kane contests a 50-50 in Tottenham’s home game against a Leeds side not known for standing back and admiring.

Let’s go then. If you’re looking for team news, hot press conference quotes and World Cup build-up, step right this way…