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Andros Townsend has been a surprise inclusion in the preliminary squad

Newcastle United midfielder Andros Townsend has been a surprise inclusion in the preliminary squad for the Euro 2016.

After having spent much of his career with Tottenham, the winger moved to Newcastle United only in January. It may be one of the worst decisions by a player in recent memory, as Newcastle have been relegated to the Championship. Transfer rumours immediately began circulating thatTownsend would look for a return to the Premier League almost immediately. His reputation as a good player was in danger if he continues to play in the second division.

The possibility of featuring at the Euro 2016 still remains healthy forTownsend given that he had a good end to the season despite relegation to the second division. For the time being, the 24-year-old is not thinking too far ahead since he is only in the preliminary squad. Roy Hodgson has provided a few surprises in his selection policy. He has decided to go with only three central defenders. Hodgson is of the opinion that this decision allows him to be more flexible in offence. The inclusion of Townsend appears to have been made possible because of this decision.

Townsend has finished the league campaign with four goals and two assists in 13 appearances for Newcastle.”Some people were reporting I was in the squad, some that I was out, so it was real relief when I was named in the provisional squad. Now it is up to me to force my way into the final 23. The start of the season was a disappointment but I always had the faith that if I could get a run of games, my form would get back to where I want it to be and I could break back into the England squad.It has worked out that way, so I am delighted,” said Townsend.

Glen Johnson Injury to be more troublesome

The injury sustained by Glen Johnson is proving to be more troublesome than initially thought Stoke City.

The former Liverpool defender was initially expected to be out for action for around 3 to 4 weeks. However, he has now been on the sidelines for almost 2 months in the latest development is that he will be unavailable for the home game against Manchester City. The right back suffered a knee injury in the game against Bournemouth back in February. His absence – coupled with many others struggling for fitness – has been a major reason in Stoke City’s European ambitions coming into a grinding halt.

Mark Hughes has tried to remain positive about the situation, but it is becoming increasingly likely that Glen Johnson may miss the remainder of the season. The 31-year-old would be the default right back for the club had he been fit. His absence, however, has allowed other players like Phil Bardsley to take advantage of an increased first-team appearance. Hughes will have no reason to complain if results were good even without important players like Johnson. However, it is not the case since City have now suffered three consecutive 4-0 defeats in the league.

Assistant manager Mark Bowen confirmed that the former Chelsea and Liverpool defender is making good progress in his comeback.”Glen is progressing well. He’s hopeful within a couple of weeks, two or three weeks, that he can get back in – he certainly hasn’t given up on the season yet.He’s looking to get back into the frame for the last few games.Marc Wilson, I’ve been told this morning, the quote was he’s not far away. He’s desperate, the same as Shay Given, to get himself fit and play a few games before the season finishes so he is ready for the Irish campaign,” said Bowen.

Greece have announced a friendly with Australia in June

Greece have announced a friendly with Australia in June and coach Michael Skibbe has praised the opposition’s impressive record when it comes to doing well at major tournaments like the World Cup.

Australia have qualified for the last three World Cups and this remains a major achievement for a nation where football is not yet hugely popular. Greece have been successful in major tournaments in the past but not of late. They did qualify for the World Cup 2014 and surprised a few by reaching the last 16. However, they have not been able to sustain their performances since the tournament.

Failure to qualify for the Euro 2016 resulted in the appointment of Skibbe as the new coach, who left his role to become a manager for Manchester entertainment offers.

Greece will be making a long trip in order to be part of the match, but the manager reckons that it will be a trip worthwhile. The objective of such friendly matches will be to do well in the upcoming World Cup 2018 qualification campaign. After having missed out on the Euro 2016, this remains a major objective for Greece.Skibbe has also reminded his players that they need to come up with a good performance since they do not have the advantage of playing in a competitive tournament like the Euro 2016.

“It is far, far away from Europe to go to Australia but on the other hand they have a really good team.They play very good, nearly every time they are going to the World Cups and doing well. We are looking forward to see them again maybe in Russia in 2018.They have a lot of players playing in Europe so I think this will be very tough for us.For us it is very important because we aren’t playing in the European Championships so we have to look at our performance,” saidSkibbe.

Glen Johnson reckons the return leg of the League Cup Round of 4

Glen Johnson reckons the return leg of the League Cup Round of 4 Contest between Liverpool and Stoke will be a much closer one.

The home leg had not fetched a great result for the Potters as they had gone down by 0-1.

But, according to Johnson, his team would put on a better display when they meet the Reds for the second time.

Liverpool has not been one of the best performers at home in the ongoing season.

They have shown signs of panic at times playing in front of the home crowd.

So, it’s something which would give Stoke a lot of heart when they make their way to Merseyside next Tuesday. They can surely trust themselves to bounce back and maybe find a place in the final.

Johnson is also of the view that 0-1 was not that dreadful a result for Stoke at Britannia considering the fact that there were two more opportunities for Liverpool to find the net and had they done so; it would have virtually sealed the tie for them.

Johnson was quoted as saying, “Yes, we had a chance to get a goal and level it up, but, they had two more chances as well and if those had been converted, it would have been far worse for us. So, eventually, I think 0-1 was okay.”

When reminded of Liverpool’s lack of form at home of late, the veteran Englishman said, “Look, they’ve got a quality squad. So, it’s never easy wherever we play them. But, I am sure we will be more at it in comparison to the first game and will try our level best to get back in the contest.”

Stoke City has won the League Cup only once before i.e. in 1971-72.

Stoke City remain hopeful that defender Glen Johnson will be available for the match

Stoke City remain hopeful that defender Glen Johnson will be available for the match against Newcastle United this weekend.

The former Liverpool and Chelsea defender is one of the important attacking players in the team despite playing as a right back. Johnson has not featured for the club since the Capital One Cup clash with Chelsea a few weeks ago. After having moved to Stoke City on a free transfer in the summer, the defender has already contributed two assists in just nine league outings. His return will be a massive boost to the club’s fortunes.

A run of three consecutive victories in the league was recently brought to an end by the 2-0 loss against Watford. This home defeat has once again put the pressure back on the players to deliver at Newcastle. There is a danger of Stoke City being relaxed ahead of this game since Newcastle have not been in great form under Steve McClaren. Mark Hughes, though, says that visiting St James’s Park is always a tough proposition for any team. Hughes remains hopeful that Johnson will recover in time to be available for this game. The defender will undergo a late fitness test in order to decide his availability.

“Glen Johnson has trained today [Thursday] and hopefully, as long as he suffers no affects from that, he will be available on Saturday,” said Hughes. Meanwhile, midfielder Glenn Whelan remains hopeful that the club can improve on the form and finish in the top six.“Hopefully we can get there [top six]. We need the results – to go to Southampton and win shows just how far we’ve come. Stoke have always been tough to beat and we want to keep that. It’s down to confidence and the way we’ve been playing under the manager,” said Whelan.

Glen Johnson believes that Philippe Coutinho has all the attributes

Former Liverpool defender Glen Johnson believes that Philippe Coutinho has all the attributes to become one of the best place in the world.

The former Inter Milan midfielder was brought to Anfield for around £ 8 million and he has since become one of the important players at the club. Last season, he narrowly missed out on the PFA player of the year award to Eden Hazard. He has once again begin the campaign impressively and has contributed to the team’s 1-0 win over Bournemouth by scoring a spectacular goal. Even thoughhe was unable to repeat the same feat against Stoke City, better performances are expected fromCoutinho.

Johnson reckons that the Brazilian can go on to become the best player in the world in the next few years if he continues at the same rate of development. Johnson’s Liverpool career came to an end last summer after he decided to not extend his contract with the Merseyside outfit. This brought his five-year spell at Anfield to an end. He has retained his status as a Premier League defender by signing for Stoke City. He played in only 1300 minutes of league football last season, but he already has 330 minutes under his belt since joining Stoke.

“In the week building up to it I was telling them, he’s the one. For me, he will be one of the best in the world.He’s one of the nicest boys in the dressing room as well and he’s the sort of player you need when you’re in the last 10 minutes when your back is against the wall, he can produce pieces of magic like that. I’ve got a lot of friends there and spent many years there with most of those players so of course it is weird seeing them so close to you but on the day you’re fighting against them,” said Johnson.

Glen Johnson is one of the high-profile Premier League stars

Glen Johnson is one of the high-profile Premier League stars to become a free agent at the end of this campaign after Liverpool confirmed his departure in a statement.

The future of the former Portsmouth defender has been under a lot of speculation. Manager Brendan Rodgers has tried to call it on several occasions by stating that Johnson would stay at Anfield, but the much anticipated contract news never came. It is widely reported that Johnson was not happy with just one year being offered at Liverpool. The defender recently turned 31 and most Premier League clubs have a policy of not offering players about 30 with more than 12 months on their contracts.

This policy is likely to see the England international become one of the few players who have played their football in Turkey. Besiktas have emerged as the favourites to sign him on a free transfer. Rather than move to the North America or the Middle East where Johnson would have had a much bigger payday, the defender has reportedly chosen to join Besiktas where he is expected to get around € 2.3 million per season. This is significantly lower than his current contract and the one on offer from Liverpool. Johnson moved to Anfield in a £ 16 million deal from Portsmouth in 2009.

The former Chelsea defender failed to shine at Stamford Bridge, but he was widely praised for his attacking contributions at Liverpool. Towards the later years of his Liverpool career, Rodgers took advantage of his versatility and often played him at left back. Last season, Johnson was limited to only 28 appearances throughout the campaign and this was seen as a major sign that Liverpool had moved on from the defender. Roma were also looking to sign the player, but it looks like they have lost the race.

Brendan Rodgers admits that the club are to discuss with defender Glen Johnson

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers admits that the club are to discuss with defender Glen Johnson over a potential new contract.

This appears to be confirmation that the club are no longer interested in retaining the services of Johnson, who moved to the club in a £ 16 million deal from Portsmouth in 2009. Since then he has become one of the top defenders in English football. His attacking instincts have made him a force to reckon with, although he may be a little susceptible in defence. These attacking qualities have helped Rodgers utilise the defender in the 3-4-3 formation.

Johnson is coming to the end of his contract at Liverpool. He is already free to discuss terms with foreign clubs, but he will be available for negotiations with English clubs starting from June. Since there is little time to sort over the final details, it was not that Johnson would stay at Liverpool only if the contract talks started a few months ago. This has proved not be the case after Rodgers confirmed that the club are yet to open negotiations with the player. The £ 100,000 per week wage demands of the player appeared to have put the club away. Johnson, though, has been linked with a move to Barcelona to replace Dani Alves.

“I haven’t spoken recently to Glen (about his future). What I know is he’s committed in training, he’s never not wanted to train.He’s been outstanding in training, just waiting for his opportunity. We’ll just have to see what the summer brings,” said Rodgers. The club’s former defender Mark Lawrenson stated that Liverpool should not allow Johnson to leave on a free and that the club should take advantage of the experience within the England international considering that Steven Gerrard is also set to leave in the upcoming summer.

Liverpool failed to win at Home in FA Cup

Liverpool failed to make home advantage count in the FA Cup quarter-final against Blackburn Rovers after they could only manage a 0-0 draw, which forces the tie into a replay at Ewood Park.

The Reds have been hoping to make the most out of the FA Cup this season, as it will be the final campaign for their talisman – Steven Gerrard. Since the FA Cup final falls on the 35th birthday for the Liverpool captain, it has become an extra special motivation for the club. However, it did not reflect on the performance against Blackburn, who had the better of chances at Anfield.

Defender Glen Johnson, who remains out of contract in the summer, remains defiant even after this poor performance. It was probably the first time Liverpool did not appear close to winning comfortably in 2015. The team has been on such a remarkable run of form that they are now the favourites ahead of Manchester United and Arsenal to finish in the Champions League places. A victory for Liverpool will see them play at the Wembley since the League Cup success under Kenny Dalglish a few years ago. As far as FA Cup goes, Liverpool have not reached the final of this competition since their last victory in 2006.

“We just didn’t play to our best today.That happens sometimes. Blackburn played well and made it tough.We can’t make excuses but the pitch didn’t help us. I know it’s the same for both sides but it slowed us down.Without doubt, it’s the worst it’s been during my time at Liverpool. You have to watch your touch more because it bobbles so much. And it’s harder for the likes of Philippe (Coutinho) and Raheem (Sterling) to dribble with the ball.It slows everything down because the bounce is so irregular. It’s different every time,” said Johnson.

Arsenal defeats starts over Initial Winning Trend

Arsenal suffered yet another defeat from a winning position after losing 2-1 against Swansea in the latest league match. Manager Arsene Wenger finally conceded defeat in the title race after this defeat.

His team have fallen a whopping 12 points behind table leaders Chelsea at the start of November. Arsenal looked to have finally broken the resistance of Swansea after opening the match with a goal from Alexis Sanchez in the second half. However, this goal brought about a strong response from Swansea and Wenger’s team failed to hold on to the advantage.

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has criticised the tactics of the Frenchman by saying that he did not do enough in order to prevent defeat. He has pointed out to the fact that Swansea’s equalising goal came from a counter-attack, which would have never happened given that Arsenal were leading the match at that point.

Once the equalising goal went in, the heads seemed to drop according to Carragher. Several pundits have analysed over the years the lack of response within this Arsenal team, while they have also shown the same naivety that has cost them the lead for a decade. Even though Arsenal have made some big signings like Sanchez, Carragher reckons that the club will not be able to become successful without a change in attitude.

“It’s the same things with Arsenal, it’s nothing new.It’s the way they play, the way they understand the game, what’s coming from the sidelines and how they allow themselves to get in these situations week after week, season after season.

They were winning 1-0 but for the equalising goal they were all pushing forward and got caught on the counter-attack again.Then the winning goal is down to a weakness – not being physically strong enough when the cross comes in,” said Carragher.