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Ex-England Under-21s Star To Make International Debut Aged 38 With Sierra Leone

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Curtis Davies is set to make his international debut this week – aged 38.

The ex-Aston Villa and Derby defender, who currently plays for League One Cheltenham Town, was called up to the Sierra Leone squad for their upcoming fixtures in Morocco.

Davies is expected to finally play international football

The West African country will face Benin and Somalia as they prepare for the World Cup qualifiers in November.

Taking to X, formerly Twitter, to announce his call-up, Davies wrote: “I’m delighted to formally announce that I will be joining the Sierra Leone national team for their upcoming friendlies.

“I thought the opportunity to represent the country of my father’s birth had passed but I feel very proud and humbled to have received the call.

“It will be a proud moment for me to pull on the shirt of The Leone Stars and make my family in Sierra Leone proud but most of all my dad. He did everything in his power to give me the best chance to become a footballer, so I dedicate this all to him.

“Looking forward to getting going.”

Born in Leytonstone, Davies made three appearances for England’s Under-21s between 2006 and 2007.

He was also called up to the men’s senior team. First, Fabio Capello named him in his first provisional squad in January 2008.

He was then called up to face Germany later that year, but didn’t get any minutes.

Davies had made eight appearances for Cheltenham this season

He was also eligible to play for the Republic of Ireland and the FAI reportedly contacted him regarding a call-up due to his grandmother being born in Ireland. However, he firmly dismissed the idea, highlighting his lack of connection with the country.

Instead, he told the media he would want to represent Sierra Leone, with family on his dad’s side still living there, if he couldn’t make the England squad.

Ireland legend Roy Keane wasn’t convinced the then-Hull star would’ve been good enough for the Three Lions, though, stating then-Tigers boss Steve Bruce had had ‘a beer’ when tipping him for an international call-up.

Speaking about the situation in 2014, he said: “I’ve had contact with [Sierra Leone] before but before I retire, if I haven’t managed to live my dream and play for England, then I’ll definitely consider going over and playing for Sierra Leone.”

Now, nine years on, that can become a reality.

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Xavi faces sack at Barcelona

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Barcelona are poised to sack coach Xavi Hernandez just weeks after he made a U-turn and decided to stay at the club, Spanish

Barcelona are poised to sack coach Xavi Hernandez just weeks after he made a U-turn and decided to stay at the club, Spanish media has reported.

Catalan radio station RAC-1 said president Joan Laporta had decided to sack Xavi, with daily newspaper Sport confirming the news, while AS said Barcelona were already deciding who would replace the coach.

In January, Xavi said he would leave at the end of the season but, after a run of strong form, in April he and president Joan Laporta agreed the coach would stay for the next campaign, with his contract expiring in June 2025.

However, Laporta did not travel with the team for their 2-0 in at Almeria in La Liga on Thursday, with Spanish media reporting he was angry with Xavi’s pre-match comments.

The coach had highlighted Barcelona’s financial difficulties in comparison to the strength of new Spanish champions Real Madrid and other European giants.

“Barcelona fans have to understand, we’re not in the same situation (as those clubs),” said Xavi on Wednesday.

The coach stood by his words on Thursday when he was asked about Laporta not attending the Almeria match.

“They haven’t told me anything personally… We travelled with the sporting vice-president, more directors, all normally,” Xavi told reporters late Thursday. “I said what I think is real, that we will fight for all the trophies, with a lot of hope, with ambition, but that the situation is not easy.

“We are working very well, the club most of all, to change this situation.”

Barcelona won La Liga last season but were not able to defend the title. They went out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals to Paris Saint-Germain and will end the season trophy less.

Real Madrid thrashed Barca in the Spanish Super Cup final while Athletic Bilbao eliminated them in the Copa del Rey.

In April, Xavi, 44, said he was “full of hope” and that fans, players and “above all the confidence of the president and (sporting director) Deco” was what convinced him to stay.

Laporta said at the time that he was glad Xavi would remain at the helm and that it was good for the stability of the club.

“It’s great news that Xavi is staying,” the president told a news conference.

“The team we have, that is (still) consolidating, with very young players, needs that stability.

“Xavi is a reference for young players and we can see that – today I’m especially pleased, and the board have unanimously supported this decision.”

Laporta appointed Xavi, one of Barcelona’s greatest ever midfielders, to replace Ronald Koeman in November 2021.

As a player, Xavi made 767 appearances for Barcelona, winning four Champions Leagues and eight La Liga titles, as well as the World Cup with Spain.

During his time as Barcelona coach, he lifted the Spanish Super Cup last season, along with the league title.

 

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Kane to miss Bayern’s game at Hoffenheim

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Harry Kane will miss Bayern Munich's final game of the season with a back injury - less than a week before Gareth Southgate announces his

Harry Kane will miss Bayern Munich’s final game of the season with a back injury – less than a week before Gareth Southgate announces his England squad for Euro 2024.

Bayern end their campaign at Hoffenheim on Saturday – live on Sky Sports – but Kane has not travelled with the squad.

“Harry Kane is receiving treatment from his personal doctor,” said Bayern boss Thomas Tuchel. “He can’t travel with us.”

Kane has not played since being replaced late in Bayern’s 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid in their Champions League semi-final second leg earlier this month.

Bayern were leading 1-0 in the Bernabeu – and 3-2 on aggregate – when Kane was replaced but conceded two late goals to exit the competition.

Tuchel explained after that defeat that striker Kane had suffered a back injury and on Friday he said: “It was already questionable in Madrid. It’s gotten worse.”

Bayern have endured a difficult campaign, failing to win the Bundesliga for the first time in 12 seasons and exiting the DFB Pokal to third-tier Saarbrucken.

owever, Kane has enjoyed a prolific campaign on an individual level, scoring 44 goals in 45 games across all competitions after joining Bayern from Tottenham in August.

 

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Van Persie lands first managerial role with Heerenveen

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Former Arsenal and Manchester United forward Robin van Persie has been appointed as manager of Eredivisie side Heerenveen, the

Former Arsenal and Manchester United forward Robin van Persie has been appointed as manager of Eredivisie side Heerenveen, the Dutch club has announced.

The 40-year-old, who retired from playing in 2019, has signed a two-year contract in his first role as manager of a senior team.

He has previously spent time working at Feyenoord, the club he began and ended his playing career with, where he took charge of the under-18s side.

Van Persie is the all-time top scorer for the Netherlands national team and was named the PFA Players’ Player of the Year in 2012, one year before he won the Premier League title with Manchester United.

Heerenveen, who are 10th in the Eredivisie, face Sparta Rotterdam in their final match of the season tomorrow.

 

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