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England Women: Lauren James and Ebony Salmon included as Sarina Wiegman names first squad since Euro 2022 win

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England have included Lauren James, Ebony Salmon, Sandy MacIver, Katie Zelem and Jordan Nobbs in their squad for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers against Austria and Luxembourg, but Chloe Kelly and Fran Kirby miss out through injury.

Kelly scored the winning goal in extra time as England defeated Germany 2-1 in the Euro 2022 final last month, securing their first major trophy in front of a record home crowd.

“Chloe is just a small thing, but it is too early to bring her in and let her play. She needs just a little bit more time, it is not too bad,” England boss Sarina Wiegman said at a press conference.

“Fran has a foot injury, that takes a little bit more time. I think she will be alright, but again this (set of games) is too short and she has not had that much training at all. This camp comes just a little bit too early.”

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Forwards James and Salmon have been called up to Wiegman’s 23-player squad, while midfielder Nobbs returns to the fold after being ruled out of the Euros with a knee injury.

James, 20, is the only uncapped player in the group, while one-cap Salmon, 21, comes in after scoring eight goals in as many games for Houston Dash.

Manchester Unied midfielder Zelem and Manchester City goalkeeper MacIver are also recalled after failing to make the cut when Wiegman reduced her 28-player provisional Euros squad to 23.
Two notable absentees are Jill Scott and Ellen White after the experienced duo this week announced their retirement from football following the Euro 2022 triumph in July.

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Wiegman said: “It is hard to describe in words how much impact they have (on the game for women in England).

“First of all, they have been with the team for such a long time. They have been impacting the game with their club team, with the national team in England so much and their personalities too.

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“I have, of course, only worked with them for a year, so am a little bit disappointed I cannot work longer with them, but I totally understand their decision and respect that.

“It (their impact) is also further than England, it is just incredible. We are so proud of them and thankful for what they have brought to the game.

“I just hope they stick with the game, if it is not as a player, then with some other role.”

Former England skipper Steph Houghton, another who did not make that final 23-player squad for the Euros, has not been brought back, despite being in action this month in City’s Champions League qualifying matches. Hannah Hampton is another absentee.

‘Euros win feels like a fairytale’
European champions England need a point away to nearest group rivals Austria on September 3 or, failing that, a victory at home to Luxembourg three days later to book their place at the World Cup finals in Australia and New Zealand next summer.

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After the highs of last month, Wiegman wants to quickly sharpen focus for the challenges ahead this season.

“It only feels like yesterday since we were celebrating at Wembley, but we have to get straight back to business,” she said.

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“We have a big target in front of us this month to book our place at the World Cup, and we have to set aside our amazing memories of this summer for the moment.

“We have lost four players in midfield and forward positions, so I am pleased we can turn to experience in Katie and Jordan along with two for the future in Lauren and Ebony.

“When we can, it is important to give opportunities to our promising younger players in this environment, and for them to experience what is expected in the senior set-up both on and off the pitch. This includes Sandy MacIver, who just missed out on the Euros (squad).

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Wiegman added she was still a bit taken aback by the achievements of the summer.

“I still need a little bit more (time) to really realise what happened,” she said.

“If I have a think back from when I started last year, from where we were and what we have done throughout the season, especially of course in the Euros, it is just incredible. It is a little bit like a fairytale.”

England Women squad
Goalkeepers: Mary Earps, Sandy MacIver, Ellie Roebuck

Defenders: Millie Bright, Lucy Bronze, Jess Carter, Rachel Daly, Alex Greenwood, Demi Stokes, Leah Williamson, Lotte Wubben-Moy

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Midfielders: Jordan Nobbs, Georgia Stanway, Ella Toone, Keira Walsh, Katie Zelem

Forwards: Bethany England, Lauren Hemp, Lauren James, Beth Mead, Nikita Parris, Alessia Russo, Ebony Salmon

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Osimhen, Lookman snubbed for Serie A awards

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Super Eagles duo Victor Osimhen and Ademola Lookman have been snubbed for the end-of-the-season awards as neither of the two players was shortlisted by Italy’s football federation for the division’s annual MVP honours.

The Lega Serie A on Wednesday officially revealed the list of players for the end of the season awards but surprisingly, no Nigerian made the shortlists.

The current Serie A awards format which is in its sixth season has different categories which include the equivalent awards for goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and attackers, as well as the league’s overall MVP, which will be announced directly, without a shortlist, on May 24.

For the best striker’s award, AC Milan’s Rafael Leao, Paulo Dybala of Roma and Juventus leading goalscorer Dusan Vlahovic were the three players shortlisted meaning there was no space for last season winner Osimhen.

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Last year, the Striker of the Year prize was handed to the division’s top goalscorer Osimhen, who was pipped to the overall MVP award by his teammate Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.

While he was not as prolific as he was last term when he finished as the Serie A top scorer with 26 goals, Osimhen still boasts of decent numbers considering how much Napoli have struggled.

He has 15 goals and three assists in 24 appearances in the Italian league and ended the season as Napoli’s best player.

Despite having his best season ever, Lookman was overlooked as Atalanta playmaker-in-chief Teun Koopmeiners, Scudetto winner Hakan Calhanoglu and Milan wide-man Christian Pulisic were listed for the best midfielder award.

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The former Leicester City forward has 15 goal contributions in 29 league games while also guiding Atalanta to the finals of the Italian Cup and Europa League.

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The Lega Serie A three-man shortlist for the Defender of the Year prize includes Inter Milan’s Alessandro Bastoni, as well as Juventus and Bologna centre-backs Gleison Bremer and Riccardo Calafiori.

Juventus stopper Wojciech Szczesny, Monza’s Michele Di Gregorio and Marco Carnesecchi of Atalanta will all vie for the best goalkeeper award.

Frosinone’s Juventus loanee Matias Soule, Torino wing-back Raoul Bellanova and Bologna leading goalscorer Joshua Zirkzee are the players listed for the Young Player of the Year prize.

According to Serie A, the awards are based on several different metrics, including stats recorded from tracking data and the ‘scientifically validated’ player rating system, which measures players’ in-game impact, movement and decision-making.

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BREAKING: Liverpool name Arne Slot new coach

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Liverpool Football Club has announced that Arne Slot has agreed to become the club’s new head coach.

The club disclosed that Slot will resume duty on January 1 after a work permit.

This was disclosed in a statement on the club’s website on Monday.

“Liverpool Football Club can announce Arne Slot has agreed a deal to become the club’s new head coach, formally taking up the position on June 1, 2024, subject to a work permit.

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“The 45-year-old will join the Reds from Feyenoord ahead of the 2024-25 season after a deal was reached with the Eredivisie club for his services,” it read.

Slot will replace Jürgen Klopp at the helm following his decision to step down from the post at the end of the current campaign.

Klopp had announced his decision to leave in January.

“The Netherlands-born coach will arrive after three highly successful seasons with Feyenoord, during which he led them to the league title in 2023 and was named Eredivisie Manager of the Year on two occasions.

“More recently, he helped the Rotterdam club to victory in the KNVB Cup in April after they defeated NEC Nijmegen 1-0 in the final.

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“Before moving to Feyenoord, Slot held the position of AZ Alkmaar head coach, and he had led them to second place in the table, trailing leaders Ajax only on goal difference, when the Dutch season was cancelled due to COVID-19 in 2019-20.

“During his playing career, he operated primarily as a midfielder, turning out for FC Zwolle, NAC Breda, Sparta Rotterdam and PEC Zwolle before hanging up his boots in 2013,” it further read.

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He will now soon become the first head coach of Liverpool FC from the Netherlands – with his first pre-season in charge of the squad set to get underway in July.

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NFF promises Eagles coach Finidi house, car after unveiling

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President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Ibrahim Gusau, has assured that newly appointed Super Eagles coach, Finidi George, will be provided with a house in the area of his choice and a driver to ensure smooth operation of his job, Theheute reports.

Gusau made these promises during the official unveiling of Finidi as Eagles coach on Monday where his assistants were also revealed.

After serving as an assistant to Portuguese coach, Jose Peseiro, Finidi was appointed as the substantive coach of the Eagles last month, beating the likes of Emmanuel Amuneke, U.S. men’s U-19 coach Michael Nsien, among other candidates to the job.

The 56-year-old will work with ex-international Daniel Amokachi and Benjamin James as assistants, Olatunji Baruwa as goalkeepers’ trainer, while Chima Onyeike will serve as fitness trainer and Turk Mehmet Ozturk as match analyst.

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Speaking at the brief ceremony in Abuja, Gusau said Finidi would be provided with a house and a driver while assuring that his salaries would be paid regularly.

“We want to avoid any issues of having conflicts in the area of paying coaches, for the coach we are going to arrange how we will be paying on a monthly basis but for every other assistant, we are engaging them on an invitational basis,” he said.

“We are going to engage them on an invitational basis, once we invite them for a match, qualifiers, or tournament; we give them whatever they are entitled to, including other allowances that the team is entitled to. Whatever the team is entitled to at any point in time, that is what the assistant coaches are entitled to and we will also agree on certain amounts that we are going to agree on to pay them whenever they come for matches or tournaments. We just want to avoid issues of having a crisis in the payment of salaries.

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“I want to assure Nigerians that we will do our best to make sure we support Finidi and give him whatever he needs to work and his salary will not be a problem because we will do our best to support him.

“Right now, as part of his contract, we must get him a comfortable house where he will stay in Nigeria which is in process and we will give him the privilege to agree on where he wants it, we will provide him transportation, he has a car already and we will provide him a driver. We just want Nigerians to support us in prayer.”

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The first task ahead of the former Ajax man is the World Cup qualifiers against South Africa and Benin Republic next month.

With his first real test less than a month away, the ex-international says his target is to qualify the Eagles for the 2026 World Cup.

“If you get to see my contract, it’s boldly written there what the NFF wants. But personally, my first target is to reach the 2026 World Cup and AFCON qualifiers will be coming up soon. But the major one are these two games we have which are against South Africa and Benin Republic. From there we will set the tone and take it from there,” Finidi said.

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