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Sterling misses out again as England recall Watkins, Bowen

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Gareth Southgate named a 26-man squad on Thursday for this month’s friendly against Australia and a Euro 2024 qualifier against Italy, both of which take place at Wembley.

Watkins replaces Newcastle United’s Callum Wilson after a fine start to the season with Aston Villa — netting seven times in 11 games including a hat trick against Brighton last weekend — while Bowen has five goals in seven matches for West Ham United and takes up a spot vacated by injured Crystal Palace winger Eberechi Eze.

Southgate had spoken to Sterling prior to last month’s games against Ukraine and Scotland to explain, saying the Chelsea winger was disappointed to have been overlooked.

There were no conversations this time with Southgate opting for Bowen instead.

“We spoke before the last squad,” Southgate told a news conference when asked about Sterling. “We’ve been happy with the wide players and the performances in the last four games in particular, and the two in March.

“The team are playing really well so clearly there is some stability there. We have added Jarrod Bowen in those wide areas. He’s playing really well and with the Australia game there is an opportunity to learn some different things as well.”

Southgate revealed that Wilson’s call-up was placed in doubt by questions over his fitness, influencing his decision to select Watkins, who has scored two England goals in seven appearances, the last of which came against Cote d’Ivoire in March 2022.

“Callum is carrying an injury, we’re not certain he’d be available,” Southgate said. “Ollie has started the season well, he has hit a bit of scoring form in the last couple of weeks.

“You have to be careful with that, you can’t just go on recency bias when you are looking at selection but he is in good form.

“He is coming in on a high. We know his character, we know his personality. He’s a good guy around the group. He’s playing for a team that is really well coached and the team are in a good moment.”

Bukayo Saka has also been included despite suffering a muscular injury in Arsenal’s Champions League defeat at Lens on Tuesday.

Arsenal are awaiting results of various tests before determining his availability for Sunday’s Premier League clash with Manchester City.

“He is still being assessed,” said Southgate of Saka. “Obviously they’ve got a big game this weekend and then there’s another seven days before we play Australia and 10 days before we play Italy so everybody will monitor everything as we go forward.”

City defender John Stones has also been recalled following a thigh problem.

Southgate also voiced his disapproval of VAR, citing the 2019 Nations League semifinal when Jesse Lingard had a goal ruled out on review for offside — a moment which would have put England 2-1 up against Netherlands with less than 10 minutes to play. They lost the game in extra-time.

It was the first time VAR had been used in a national team competition run by UEFA.

“You say I was at the forefront of it, I wasn’t for it,” Southgate added. “My first experience of it, I’m still not sure if the Jesse Lingard goal that knocked us out of the semi-final was legit or not.

“I don’t like it. I think we should just accept referees’ decisions but I also know we are unlikely to go back to a world where we don’t have technology as part of that decision-making process.

“It was never going to resolve every issue. I don’t think there is any solution that will achieve that.”

England squad:

Goalkeepers: Sam Johnstone (Crystal Palace), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)

Defenders: Levi Colwill (Chelsea), Lewis Dunk (Brighton & Hove Albion), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Fikayo Tomori (AC Milan), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)

Midfielders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Jordan Henderson (Al-Ettifaq), Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City), Declan Rice (Arsenal)

Forwards: Jarrod Bowen (West Ham United) Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Bayern Munich), James Maddison (Tottenham Hotspur), Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa)

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Men charged with murder of Kaizer Chiefs’ Luke Fleurs remanded

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Men charged with murder of Kaizer Chiefs’ Luke Fleurs remanded

Six suspects arrested over the murder of Kaizer Chiefs player Luke Fleurs have been remanded by the Roodepoort magistrate’s court on Friday.

Ndumiso Moswane, 26; Fernando Siva, 25; Nhlakanipho Dlamini, 21; Franky Xaba, 25; Maredi Mphahlele, 36; and Thembinkosi Hlomikhawu, 31, have been charged with murder, possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition, robbery with aggravating circumstances and defeating the ends of justice.

The suspects are expected to apply for bail during their court appearance next Friday.

All six suspects have opted to apply for the services of Legal Aid lawyers.

State prosecutor Arnold Limekhaya said the state intends to oppose the bail applications.

“We will oppose bail,” he told the court, indicating the state was yet to get the profiles of the men and their bail statements.

The 24-year-old Kaizer Chiefs defender and South Africa under-23 international was hijacked and fatally shot in the chest at a petrol station in Honeydew last Wednesday.

It is understood that the assailants drove off in Fleurs’ vehicle.

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Lagos FA to debut Nigerian Ex-International cup

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Lagos FA To Debut Nigerian Ex-International Cup

The Lagos State Football Association (LSFA) has concluded arrangements to organize a tournament involving Nigerian ex-internationals and their clubs’ teammates back in the day.
The Lagos State Football Association Chairman, Hajj Gafar Olawale Liameed, disclosed that the ex-internationals coming together to play football will inspire lots of youths.

“We believe in our ex-players. LSFA is determined to carry along ex-internationals and drive the game forward at every level,” Hajj Gafar stated.

“The tournament will see former Nigeria internationals based in Lagos adopt teams. For instance, if an ex-international is based in the area of Dino SC he can adopt them.

“The competition tagged ‘The Nigerian Ex Internationals Cup’ would see teams play on a home and away basis in the first phase before we proceed to the knockout stage.

“We want to have a clear identity and organize lots of programs. This is one of our innovations and we hope to take blessings from the Lagos State Government and Nigeria Football Federation,” the football technocrat enthused.

Hajj Gafar also reiterated LSFA’s commitments to the proper development of football in the centre of excellence.

“We’re determined to lead that development at every level and have created a robust plan for doing so using all our resources and knowledge.”

Meanwhile, former Nigeria internationals like Joseph Yobo, Yakubu Aiyegbeni and Wasiu Ipaye have already thrown their weight behind the innovation by the LSFA.

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NFF appoints Manu Garba as Golden Eaglets’ Head Coach

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The Board of Nigeria Football Federation has appointed former U17 World Cup winner Manu Garba as Head Coach of the Nigeria U17 boys, Golden Eaglets.

The Board of Nigeria Football Federation has appointed former U17 World Cup winner Manu Garba as Head Coach of the Nigeria U17 boys, Golden Eaglets.

 

Garba had, in the same role, led the Golden Eaglets to win the FIFA U17 World Cup for Nigeria in the United Arab Emirates in 2013 – Nigeria’s fourth triumph at that stage.

 

Garba’s world-conquering squad in 2013 included Kelechi Iheanacho, Taiwo Awoniyi, Isaac Success, Musa Mohammed, Chidiebere Nwakali and goalkeeper Dele Alampasu.

 

The squad, which finished as runners-up at the African U17 Championship in Morocco after a penalty shootout defeat by Cote d’Ivoire, defeated Mexico 6-1 in their opening game, drew 3-3 with Sweden and hammered Iraq 5-0. In the Round of 16, they ran Iran ragged 4-1, dispatched Uruguay 2-0 in the quarter-finals and trounced Sweden 3-0 in the semi-finals, before they dislodged Mexico by the same margin in the final to lift the trophy.

 

The former Nigeria international will now immediately resume the role and take charge of the team’s preparations for next month’s WAFU B U17 Championship, taking place in Ghana.

 

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