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Wednesday Fulham Stuff (16/11/11)...

Started by WhiteJC, November 16, 2011, 07:16:44 AM

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Dembele Blow

I`m seriously hoping that Moussa Dembele has been misquoted; otherwise he could be in for a rough time.

With news of a possible interest form Spurs filtering through in recent days, Dembele is quoted, in the tabloid press, as having remarked,

"Tottenham are an attractive club and I could possibly leave Fulham during the summer."

"I have heard Spurs are interested in me and it would be a step up if I joined them - and that has always been my ambition."

"I played a lot of games for Fulham last season when I was not injured and I have now got a regular first-team place once again."

"So I don`t see why I should not take a step up to a higher level."


Not what the Fulham faithful were wanted to, or expected to, hear!

Read more:


Reserves put four past Watford
by DAN on NOVEMBER 15, 2011

Fulham's reserves beat Watford 4-1 in a friendly at Motspur Park this afternoon.

Intriguingly, a trialist was amongst the goalscorers. Alex Kacaniklic, Tom Donegan and Marcello Trotta scored the other goals.

Fulham: Bettinelli; Dean (Pritchard h/t), Harris, Burn, A Smith (O'Reilly 59); B Riise, Donegan (Brister 75), Gecov, Kacaniklic; Woodrow (Trialist h/t), Trotta.


Salgado set for Fulham trial
by DAN on NOVEMBER 15, 2011

Young American striker Omar Salgado will reportedly begin a trial at Fulham later this week.

The Vancouver Whitecaps forward will travel to London to spend two weeks at Motspur Park once his involvement in an American under-23 international training camp in Germany concludes this week. The 18 year-old striker, who received a Spanish passport in September, was used sparingly by the Whitecaps in his first season in the MLS. A number one draft pick, Salgado scored once in 14 appearances – nine of them come off the substitutes bench – but was Vancouver's top scorer in the reserve league.

Salgado, an imposing figure at 6ft 4in, had previously been involved in the youth-team set up of Mexican side Guadalajara.


US offense awakens in 3-2 win at Slovenia

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — The United States won for just the second time since Jurgen Klinsmann took over as coach, winning 3-2 over Slovenia after Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore scored in a three-minute spell late in the first half on Tuesday.

Klinsmann, the former German star and coach, switched to a more attack-oriented 4-4-2 and was rewarded when Edson Buddle hit the opening goal. However, Tim Matavz scored twice for Slovenia, either side of the goals from Dempsey and Altidore.

The win on a foggy night in Ljubljana was the 34th-ranked Americans' first in Europe in six matches and 3½ years.

At last year's World Cup, the two teams drew 2-2 in the group stage.

The U.S. had lost four times in Klinsmann's six previous matches in charge since replacing Bob Bradley in late July.

"It looked much better," Klinsmann said. "It's a process, and that process, besides results, is going really well."

On a night when the fog prevented players from seeing clearly for more than 10 or 20 yards, Buddle put the U.S. ahead in the ninth minute off a pass from Dempsey after a defensive mixup.

Matavz leveled in the 26th as an American offside trap failed. Dempsey scored with a header in the 41st and Altidore made it 3-1 when he converted a penalty two minutes later.

But Slovenia, ranked 27th in the world, responded after halftime when Matavz cut the deficit in the 61st after Bostjan Cesar's corner had bounced off the crossbar.

U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra became the 12th American to make 100 international appearances, but Klinsmann made three changes from Friday's 1-0 loss at France.

"It was a special night," Klinsmann said. "The team was pumped up all day, and they wanted to do well for him."

Buddle and Altidore started up front as Klinsmann went to a two-forward formation. Michael Bradley — son of the former coach — and Buddle made their first starts since Klinsmann's debut in August.

"It was kind of coming over the last couple of months," Klinsmann said. "We've been working on that."

Fabian Johnson, who started for Germany in the 2009 European Under-21 final, began in midfield, four days after making his American debut as a second-half substitute.

Johnson nearly put the U.S. ahead in the first minute, with goalkeeper Samir Handanovic just tipping his volley over the crossbar.

Buddle scored his third goal in 10 appearances, and his first since June 2010 against Australia, after Handanovic's attempted clearance was stripped by Dempsey from Darijan Matic. Dempsey tipped the ball to Buddle, who scored from 25 yards.

Two minutes later, an open Altidore skied over the crossbar from Johnson's cross.

With the defense playing a high line, Zlatan Ljubijankic split the center backs and Matavz broke through alone to score from about 15 yards over Howard's outstretched right hand.

Dempsey broke the deadlock with a header from about 8 yards off Michael Bradley's corner. With his 24th international goal, Dempsey tied Joe-Max Moore for fourth place on the U.S. scoring list, trailing only Landon Donovan (46), Eric Wynalda (34) and Brian McBride (30).

Miso Brecko then tripped Johnson in the penalty area, and Altidore converted the penalty for his 13th international goal.

Slovenia had a chance to equalize in second-half injury time, but Valter Birsa — who scored the opening goal when the teams met in South Africa last year — put a 25-yard free kick over the crossbar.

"We'd liked to have finished game a little bit stronger than we did," Dempsey said. "But we're happy with the win."


Duff hails overdue celebration

Damien Duff admitted it was "about time" after the Republic of Ireland booked their place at Euro 2012 at the expense of Estonia.

Estonia skipper Konstantin Vassiljev's strike denied the Republic victory in their play-off second leg but few at the Aviva Stadium would have had any complaints as the home side wrapped up a 5-1 aggregate win.

Stephen Ward had earlier set the hosts on their way with a close-range 31st-minute finish, and Fulham midfielder Duff felt the achievement was long overdue.

"It's an amazing feeling - it's probably even better than [reaching the World Cup in] 2002 because time is running out for a few of us, so I suppose you appreciate it more now," Duff told Sky Sports.

"It's brilliant and it's about time - 25 years since we've been to the Euros and 10 since we got to a major tournament."


England v Sweden: Bobby Zamora shows enough to push for a place at euro 2012
For Bobby Zamora it was a Marmite performance. The 30-year-old striker, on his full England debut, put in what he termed a "hard shift", yet there were some stern judgments of his contribution delivered afterwards. Much of the criticism focused on his failure to score – he wasted two opportunities – and goals, of course, are a striker's currency. But it was brutal to write him off after this.

In the thick of it: Bobby Zamora (centre) is challenged by Sweden's Martin Olsson
and Pontus Wernbloom at Wembley Stadium Photo: AP

He should have done better with the first opportunity, for certain. His return pass to Theo Walcott was heavy but when the ball was sent back to him, his shot was snatched. Even then it rebounded from a defender only for Zamora to stab the ball into the side-netting. There were groans, maybe unfairly.

Zamora had spoken about this being an audition. And it was, even if Fabio Capello was not able to provide the supporting cast that he had intended. Interestingly, the England manager had wanted to vary formation from the 4-3-3 he used to defeat Spain to a more traditional 4-4-2 so that he could pair Zamora with Danny Welbeck.

Injury ruled out the 20-year-old Manchester United striker, which was a shame given that Capello regarded the youngster and Zamora as a "perfect combination". In his absence, Zamora was asked to be a target man, holding up the ball, linking intelligently with the midfield and using his strength.

If that goal had come – the moment was five minutes before the shaven head of Sweden's Daniel Majstorovic deflected Gareth Barry's header into his own net – it would have been England's 2,000th and that would have been some fillip for Zamora.

The miss didn't faze him, though. Soon after he showed why Capello was intrigued to include him when he delayed and delayed, holding the ball up superbly to finally lay it back to Leighton Baines when he arrived to cross. Jack Rodwell hooked it narrowly wide. That was classic No 9 play from Zamora.

England were without their No 10 in Wayne Rooney, left out of the squad by Capello as he considered the options he has as his main attacking force fights the three-match ban imposed on him that may rule him out of the group stages of Euro 2012 next summer.

Rooney's appeal will be heard on Dec 9 and the best he can hope is that his ban is reduced to two matches, meaning that Capello must still plan without him for the early stages, even though he will certainly go to the tournament. That consideration means that England will take five strikers and Zamora offers something different. Twice in the opening minutes the Fulham striker drew fouls from his marker, the former Aston Villa defender Olof Mellberg. He was also able to show an ability to release the impressive Stewart Downing and pull the Swedish defenders to create space for Phil Jones, Barry and Rodwell.

Without Rooney, Capello believes England must consider strikers who can link the play and involve the likes of Ashley Young, Walcott and Downing. That the Italian likes a powerful frontman could work in Zamora's favour; certainly he fits that bill – if he can make the step up.

Both Darren Bent and Welbeck look for the ball in behind, but with Zamora an attack can be built in a different way. There were further examples of that when he cushioned a pass, under pressure, to Barry and then had the awareness to head the ball back to Rodwell, who snatched at another chance. Then he cleverly angled a volleyed pass to substitute Daniel Sturridge, almost teeing him up for a goal.

So, Zamora or Andy Carroll? Capello is running out of time with just the friendly against Holland in the spring before he names a provisional squad.

The Liverpool striker was supposed to be the man to claim the shirt but Capello was withering on the eve of this encounter when he offered a dismissive response to questions of why Carroll was not in his squad. "That depends on him, not me." No further comment was needed.

Zamora was name-checked by the manager in the immediate aftermath of the humiliating elimination to Germany at last summer's World Cup and has been in his thoughts ever since.

He would have gone to South Africa but for injury and his international career has been blighted by bad luck, first with a persistent Achilles problem and then a broken leg that kept him out for five months.

Yet, it was not so long ago that the Fulham fans were singing songs about his shots ending up in row Z and the Premier League club were trying to offload him to Hull City.

If there is a criticism of his abilities, it is that lack of goal threat. But then, as expected, this was a game of few opportunities and Zamora was unfortunate when he ran on to Downing's cross only for his goal-bound shot to deflect off substitute Jonas Olsson. He then made his presence count when he caused a mix-up between the Swedish central defenders, but his cross, aimed at Sturridge, was wasteful. Frustratingly, it was his last contribution but he departed hoping that he had pushed his case for a place in the squad for Euro 2012.


Fulham eye loan move for Tottenham starlet Carroll

Fulham will enquire about taking Tom Carroll on loan from Tottenham in January.

Carroll, 19, is highly rated at Spurs and has made six appearances this season but the midfielder is not deemed ready to become a regular yet.

Dee Purple: Fulham are interested about taking Tom Carroll on loan

Read more:


Duff - Euro qualification an 'amazing feeling'

Damien Duff admitted it was "about time" the Republic of Ireland booked their place in the finals of a major tournament after tonight's 1-1 draw with Estonia sealed Giovanni Trapattoni's men their berth at Euro 2012.

Estonia skipper Konstantin Vassiljev's strike denied the Republic victory in their play-off second leg but few at the Aviva Stadium would have had any complaints as the home side wrapped up a 5-1 aggregate win.

Stephen Ward had earlier set the hosts on their way with a close-range 31st-minute finish, and Fulham midfielder Duff felt the achievement was long overdue.

"It's an amazing feeling - it's probably even better than [reaching the World Cup in] 2002 because time is running out for a few of us, so I suppose you appreciate it more now," Duff told RTÉ's Tony O'Donoghue.

"It's brilliant and it's about time - 25 years since we've been to the Euros and 10 since we got to a major tournament."

Goalkeeper Shay Given, who was at fault for Estonia's only goal over the two legs, added: "It's a historic moment. It's been a long 16 months but we're extremely happy obviously. We deserved it and we'll celebrate tonight for sure."

The Aston Villa goalkeeper admitted it was a strange night given his side's huge advantage from the first leg.

"It was a little bit, and for the crowd, because we were four goals ahead from the first leg and then five in the first half," he said.

"But we're just going to enjoy the atmosphere now. I think the lads deserve it, it's been a long road, and we'll look forward to next summer."

Striker Robbie Keane, whose two goals in the first leg helped to put the tie beyond the Estonians, added that it was an special moment to seal qualification in Dublin.

"Look at the crowd here - I think that says it all," said Keane before jubilant scenes in the stands. It's a great night for everyone - the fans, the players - it's a night that we'll never forget.

"Full credit to everyone who's involved in the squad. This is why we play football, for situations like this."

Aston Villa defender Richard Dunne said sealing qualification to the finals in Poland and Ukraine ranked as his finest moment in the game.

"It's the best experience I've probably had in football," he said.

"We've walked around Lansdowne Road a few times with nothing to show for it at the end of campaigns, so to qualify here I think is special for everyone.

"Everybody wants to play in a major tournament and now to have the opportunity is going to be great, but I think for everyone in the squad it's about enjoying tonight and enjoying the qualification."

Goalscorer Ward added: "It's a great night. We're disappointed not to win the game but if you told us we'd have won 5-1 and qualified...

"It's a dream come true and we're absolutely delighted."

Trapattoni was disappointed not to be able to produce a win in front of the home fans, but was not surprised to encounter an Estonia side much improved from their first-leg drubbing.

"The second game is always difficult because this team was humiliated at home, and I said to the players 'be careful, because these are not like the ones we met in Estonia'," he said.

"Qualifying [for the European Championships] after 25 years is like a big trophy. For me, for us, for all of the FAI, we are proud about our jobs."


Bobby Zamora stuck in supporting role as England chance slips away
The striker worked hard against Sweden but did not inflict as much damage as he could against such humdrum opposition

Bobby Zamora worked hard up front for England but he could have tested the
Sweden defence more. Photograph: Clive Rose - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Poor Bobby Zamora. Offered the opportunity to score England's 2,000th goal on Tuesday night, a perennially unfortunate footballer was forced instead to stand and watch as Stewart Downing's cross glanced off the side of Gareth Barry's head and then off Daniel Majstorovic's forehead before evading Andreas Isaksson's dive as it looped inside the post for the most anticlimactic of own goals.

That was it for England, and it was enough to put an end to 43 years of failing to beat Sweden. Two 1-0 wins in four days was a better outcome than most of their supporters would have anticipated, although neither performance gave the eye much of a treat. In the search for a solution to Wayne Rooney's absence in the early rounds of next summer's European finals, Fabio Capello took the chance to assess a clutch of youngsters, plus Zamora.

This is the man who received his second passport in time to play in Trinidad & Tobago's World Cup qualifying match against El Salvador in 2009, but then suffered an injury in training. That enabled him to opt for England when Capello showed an interest, but a damaged achilles tendon cost him a place on the trip to South Africa. Some might see that as a stroke of good fortune, but it seemed typical of the way fate has treated him when he signed a new four‑year contract with Fulham in October 2010 and broke his leg the next day, losing five months of the season at a time when he finally seemed to be on the brink of fulfilling his promise on something more than a sporadic basis.

This seemed a promising night for the 30-year-old to make his first start for the senior side. Whereas Darren Bent had been forced to suffer alone on Saturday, the Fulham striker had everything set up for him, not least in terms of support from the flanks. Within 20 minutes England had already done twice as much attacking as they managed in 90 against Spain, taking advantage of Sweden's very English 4-4-2.

Whereas on Saturday the home team had been reduced by strategic necessity to playing their final ball from deep within their own half, on Tuesday night they could work their way forward in a much more structured and fluent manner. Theo Walcott, little seen in his 45 minutes against Spain, was given plenty of possession and the time in which to exploit it, plus a willing partner in Tottenham's Kyle Walker, a right-back virtually unburdened by defensive duties as England pressed forward.

On the opposite wing Downing, too, could enjoy the chance to build a relationship with Leighton Baines, barely hindered by the overstretched Mikael Lustig. Whichever side the ball went, Zamora made sure he was available. A double exchange of passes with Walcott in the 17th minute put Zamora in on goal, but after Isaksson blocked his first effort the follow-up was poked past the post from five yards. Two minutes before the interval he sent Downing past Lustig once again, this time to curl in a centre that Jack Rodwell nodded against the outside of the post.

If Zamora was going short of chances to score himself, that was hardly going to be a worry to him. In interviews last week he stressed that his contribution to Fulham could best be measured not in goals but in the number of chances he created for his team-mates. In that respect, he pointed out, his statistics are as good as anyone's, and the value of his unselfish attitude was obvious as an unfamiliar lineup settled into a sensible, progressive pattern and a confident rhythm.

Still, any centre‑forward will ultimately be judged by the goals he scores rather than his total of assists, and Zamora spurned a wonderful chance in the 65th minute when Downing scampered down the left once more before pulling the ball back at precisely the right pace and angle for the striker to meet it with a first‑time connection. Jonas Olsson, however, flew in to deflect the shot for a corner.

A direct comparison with the enigmatic Zlatan Ibrahimovic certainly did him no harm at all. The tall Swede gave yet another of those opaque and ineffectual performances that are bewildering from a man of such gifts, and will have done nothing to improve his poor reputation among the English sceptics. On such occasions Ibrahimovic seems to go out of his way to convey the impression that the whole thing is beneath him.

England's supporters clearly did not think it worth turning out in great numbers to watch their team play the nation that gave us Gunnar Nordahl, Nils Liedholm, Thomas Ravelli and Henrik Larsson, and the missing 40,000 may have had a point.

Erik Hamren's side began the second half with a little more dynamism than the bare minimum they had shown before the interval, but they still looked surprisingly nondescript. Perhaps that was always going to be the fate of the next visitors to Wembley after world champions Spain, but England – and Zamora in particular – really should have inflicted greater punishment on such humdrum opposition.


Islamovic on trial at Fulham
by DAN on NOVEMBER 16, 2011

The trialist who scored for Fulham's reserves against Watford yesterday afternoon is Dino Islamovic.

Islamovic, who currently plays for Malmo in Sweden, has had his trial extended from one week to two and is expected to feature in at least one more game before his spell at Motspur Park comes to an end. The 17 year-old impressed as a half-time substitute in the behind-closed-doors friendly completing a well-worked team move with a composed finish.


Duff delighted to qualify
by DAN on NOVEMBER 16, 2011

Damien Duff spoke of his relief and delight after Ireland reached the European Championship finals with a 5-1 aggregate win over Estonia.

The Fulham winger admitted it was extra special because it was probably his last chance to reach a major tournament again:

It's an amazing feeling – it's probably even better than [reaching the World Cup in] 2002 because time is running out for a few of us, so I suppose you appreciate it more now. It's brilliant and it's about time – 25 years since we've been to the Euros and 10 since we got to a major tournament.


Zamora on his England performance
by DAN on NOVEMBER 16, 2011

Bobby Zamora got his first start for England against Sweden at Wembley tonight.

The Fulham striker toiled manfully as a lone striker and didn't see an awful lot of the ball, but managed to contribute successfully to most of England's attacks. He was withdrawn for Darren Bent after 69 minutes, having gone close with a couple of shots, and gave his reaction to talkSPORT:

I felt it went okay. Not the greatest, but it was hard work. I was unlucky not to put one of the two chances I had away.

It's hard up front on your own – you've just got to work hard and try put yourself about and that's what I tried to do today. If I could have nicked a goal that would have been brilliant but, as I say, the result was good.

We looked like a hard team to beat, which is the main thing. Keeping a clean sheet is very important as well. That's two clean sheets now and, as I say, we're looking solid and getting goals on the break is good for us.

I've just got to work hard at Fulham and keep doing what I'm doing. Obviously, the gaffer will be looking and watching and that's all I can do. [A goal] always helps, I'm sure, but it was tough up there on my own and I just tried to hold the ball up and work hard.

Searingly honest. Well done, Bobby!


Fulham linked with Carroll loan move
by DAN on NOVEMBER 16, 2011

The Daily Mail says Fulham are planning to take Tottenham's Tom Carroll on loan in January.

The 19 year-old is well regarded at White Hart Lane and has broken into the first-team picture this season, but faces plenty of competition for a regular start. Carroll has made six appearances for Spurs so far this campaign – with all bar one coming in the Europa League. He spent the second half of last season on loan at Leyton Orient, making 14 appearances. Carroll, who signed a professional contract with Tottenham in June 2010 having come through the club's academy set-up, has made one appearance for the England under-19 side.


Zamora admits first England start was 'hard work'

BOBBY Zamora admitted he found it tough going operating as a lone striker in his first start for England against Sweden on Tuesday night.

But the Fulham striker is refusing to give up on his dream of being part of the squad Fabio Capello takes to Poland and Ukraine next year for the European Championships.

"It went OK. It wasn't the greatest, but it was hard work," Zamora admitted.

"It's hard up front on your own really. You've just got to work hard and try to put yourself about and that's what I tried to do."

Time is not on Zamora's side as he has only a handful of friendlies in which to impress next year ahead of the tournament and he was unable to mark his second cap with a first goal for his country.

He will also be 31 in January and is up against younger strikers in the battle to become the alternative to Wayne Rooney, who will be suspended at the start of the championships.

He did link up well with Theo Walcott a couple of times, however, and had one shot blocked and hit the side-netting after a good combination with the Arsenal winger. He also earned free-kicks and made a general nuisance of himself.

"I felt I was unlucky not to put away one of the two chances I had," said the Craven Cottage idol, who craves a goal to boost his claim for a regular England starting place.

"A goal always helps, I'm sure, but as I say, it's tough up there on my own. I just tried to hold the ball up and work hard and I thought I did that tonight.

"I've just got to work hard at Fulham and keep doing what I'm doing. Obviously the gaffer will be watching and that's all I can do."

Read More


Wembley match zone: Zamora is taking over Heskey role

England completed an unbeaten 2011 in satisfactory style by ending their 43-year wait for a victory over Sweden.

A deflected first-half  header - attributed to Swedish defender Daniel Majstorovic - proved enough to secure the win, in addition to becoming England's landmark 2,000th goal.

Here's Sportsmail's lowdown on the action at the half-full Wembley stadium.

Heads we win: Barry's defelcted first-half header was enough to seal spoils

Zamora is taking over Heskey role
Bobby Zamora could be gearing up as the new Emile Heskey for Euro 2012 - a non-scoring centre forward who earns his place by bringing out the best in those around him.

Like Heskey, the Fulham striker's great asset is his willingness to make the runs and work for the team and his hold-up play.

Link man: Zamora may not have provided a goal threat, but his performance was impressive all the same

Theo Walcott and Stewart Downing were among the beneficiaries of Zamora's contribution, although, admittedly, it is easier for everyone to play against Sweden than Spain because at least you get to have a bit of the ball.

Zamora missed a good chance in the first half but he integrated Fabio Capello's midfield well.

Captain's run
John Terry has now been chosen to lead England 34 times, putting him fifth in the table for all-time appearances as captain.
Topping the list on 90 games each are Billy Wright and World Cup winner Bobby Moore.

Won't back down: John Terry is determined to remain England captain

While Terry has been skipper, England have lost only four times, the lowest total since Gary Lineker captained the side from 1990-92, when they lost only twice.

Having first taken the captaincy under Steve McClaren in August 2006, Terry is tied with Alan Shearer, who led the side from 1996-2000.

Terry is now 26 games away from overtaking his predecessor David Beckham in fourth place.

Under 21 stars step up to mark
This is what Under 21 football is supposed to do. Joe Hart, Theo Walcott, Jack Rodwell and James Milner were all part of Stuart Pearce's England squad which won an epic semi-final on penalties after a 3- 3 draw against Sweden in Gothenburg in 2009.

On Tuesday night they all looked the part on the senior stage. Phil Jones, Kyle Walker and Daniel Sturridge all stepped up.
Sturridge's appearance will cost Chelsea £1million as part of the transfer deal from Manchester City.

Chelsea and City might not be too fussed about the cash but it is understood Coventry City are due to a £50,000 slice of the fee because he left their Academy for Manchester. The Championship club will certainly appreciate the injection.

Jack the lad: Rodwell was one of a number of former Under 21s to shine

It's lift-off for Thunderbirds...
Stand by for an application from Tracy Island for full FIFA status after a successful test run of the kit by Sweden at Wembley.
There is, however, no truth in the rumour they are trying their best to persuade England midfielder Scott Parker to change allegiance and drive the bus.

Not even the pitch can stop England
Just when it seemed the Wembley pitch problems were a thing of the past then the hallowed semi-artificial turf seemed a bit of a mess. There were worn patches in both goalmouths and just outside each penalty area.

There were also the darker stretches of grass across the remains of the pitch markings and adverts from the NFL and rugby league games which extended along each goal and down each flank.

Despite all that, the Wembley surface seemed to play perfectly well and without complaints from the players.

Life's a pitch: The Wembley turf showed signs of wear and tear

Stewart on song
Stewart Downing made the most of his opportunity with an inspired display on the left.

The winger created more chances in the first 45 minutes alone than in his previous five England appearances combined (which just happened to total 256 minutes). Impressive after the break too.

Tribute to Sir Geoff
Sir Geoff Hurst came on as a substitute the last time England beat Sweden, at Wembley in 1968. On Tuesday night there was a commemorative stone laid in his honour on the Wembley concourse.

Read more:


Sports Digest: U.S. offense awakens in 3-2 win at Slovenia

U.S. offense awakens in 3-2 win at Slovenia

The United States won for just the second time since Jurgen Klinsmann took over as coach, with Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore scoring in a two-minute span late in the first half to lead the Americans over Slovenia 3-2 on Tuesday night in Ljubljana. Tim Matavz scored twice for Slovenia, and Edson Buddle got the opening goal for the Americans, who had been outscored 5-2 in going 1-4-1 since Klinsmann was hired. The former German star and coach switched to a more attack-oriented 4-4-2 scheme. It was the U.S. team's first victory in Europe 3½ years, having gone 0-5 since winning at Poland in 2008.


Celtic, Fulham and Espanyol in three-way fight for Swedish defender

Celtic and Fulham face a fight with Espanyol to sign Swedish right-back Mikael Lustig in January.

The 24-year-old's contract with Rosenborg expires in November and he will be available on a free transfer.

That has alerted both Celtic and Fulham, but Spanish side Espanyol have also joined the fight for a player who is a regular for his national side.

"We are in dialogue with a number of renowned clubs," said Lustig's representative, Lennart Norgen.


Bobby Zamora could be heading for shock £5m January exit from Fulham after falling out with Martin Jol

The England striker is settled in London and Championship promotion-chasers West Ham, Crystal Palace and Brighton & Hove Albion are all monitoring his situation

Bobby Zamora could be heading for a shock departure from Fulham in January following a gradual disintegration in his relationship with manager Martin Jol, can reveal.

The England striker has had a series of disagreements with Jol over the manager's decision to rest him from some Europa League matches and is also believed to be unhappy about the progressive overhaul of the team's tactics, which is centred on phasing out a system with a support striker and introducing a Dutch-style 4-3-3 formation.

But the 30-year-old's options are likely to be reduced as the player is settled in London and does not want to leave the south-east.

Championship promotion-chasers West Ham, Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace are among those closely monitoring the situation.

"Jol has a poor relationship with Zamora and it is no secret that they do not see eye to eye," a source told "Fulham could be willing to listen to offers for him but it depends on what happens with the other forwards and where they are in the table in January.

"If Fulham are struggling with around 16 points, they are more likely to trust in the players who have helped keep them up quite comfortably in the last three seasons. If they have around 22-26 points, there could be some high-profile changes and you will see a gradual break-up of what is an ageing squad."

In-form Andy Johnson is out of contract at the end of the season and is holding out for a better deal than he has been offered, while speculation also surrounds the futures of Clint Dempsey, who was the subject of an enquiry from Arsenal last summer, and prize asset Moussa Dembele.

The Belgian attacker, who has been compared by Jol to Rafael van der Vaart, is the player that Fulham are most desperate to keep out of the clutches of rival clubs.

Although Zamora has maintained his position as Fulham's centre-forward under three different managers and his consistent club form was recognised with a second full England cap against Sweden on Tuesday night, he is 31 in January and the west London club could be tempted into selling if they receive an offer that matches their £5 million valuation.

Zamora has two-and-a-half years remaining on his £45,000-a-week contract and it is believed that he might be willing to drop down a division to spearhead the revival of an ambitious Championship club.

As revealed last week, Fulham are looking to reinforce their squad in January by recruiting a fast left-winger, with Scott Sinclair top of their shopping list, a centre-forward and a right-back.


England's Bobby Zamora linked with sensational Seagulls return

He may have been leading the line for England last night, but according to reports Bobby Zamora could be on his way back to the Albion in January.

The former Brighton talisman impressed with his link up play during England's victory over Sweden at Wembley but rumours coming out of Craven Cottage suggest his relationship with Fulham boss Martin Jol is frosty to say the least.

And some sources believe that could pave the way for a January move - with Brighton and another of Zamora's former clubs, West Ham, apparently among those forming an orderly queue for his signature.

Zamora currently has two-and-a-half years remaining on his bumper £45,000-a-week contract but it is believed that despite his lofty England ambitions, he would be more than willing to drop down a division


England newcomers eyeing EURO places

Jack Rodwell, Kyle Walker and Bobby Zamora made first England starts on Tuesday in the 1-0 defeat of Sweden and are keen for more international exposure as UEFA EURO 2012 approaches.

Having helped England sign off for the year nine games unbeaten, Bobby Zamora, Jack Rodwell and Kyle Walker are hopeful 2012 might bring personal reward and a place in the squad for the UEFA European Championship.

The trio made their first international starts on Tuesday as an experimental team defeated Sweden 1-0 at Wembley thanks to a deflected header from Gareth Barry. That ended a run of 13 games stretching back 43 years without a win against that opposition.

Rodwell, in particular, would have marked the occasion with a goal had he headed a cross from Stewart Downing inside, rather than against, the upright before half-time. Nonetheless, the Everton FC midfielder, 20, was delighted to have featured from the outset, three days after his debut as a substitute another 1-0 Wembley victory against Spain.

"I should have scored one or two, but I'll take the positives from that," said Rodwell, capped 20 times at under-21 level. "Playing against Spain and world class players like Xavi and Iniesta was brilliant, it was a great experience for me, and to start tonight against top players is another step."

Walker will also have impressed Fabio Capello after a typically energetic display at right-back. When asked whether he had given the England manager something ponder, the Tottenham Hotspur FC defender said he would "like to think so".

"I just want to go out there and play football, which is what I enjoy doing, and the rest can take care of itself," explained Walker, who also made his senior debut on Saturday. "I need to keep playing club football and hopefully keeping performing, and then we can look towards the summer."

Fifteen months after his England bow as a substitute against Hungary, Zamora earned his second cap as the lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation. "It's hard up front on your own," said the Fulham FC forward. "You've just got to work hard and put yourself about and that's what I tried to do."

Like Rodwell and Walker, the 30-year-old Zamora is keen to maintain the club form which prompted Capello to select him this month. "I've just got to work hard at Fulham and keep doing what I'm doing," he added. "The gaffer will be looking, watching and that's all I can do."

In contrast to England ‒ whose last reverse came against France 12 months ago ‒ Sweden have ended 2011 with successive defeats since booking their place in Poland and Ukraine as the best runners-up in qualifying. "Losing two games is not what we wanted to do, but luckily they were just friendly matches," Sebastian Larsson, who played in Friday's 2-0 loss to Denmark, told

"Today was definitely a better display from us; we should have got something from the game. In the second half we created plenty of opportunities but weren't good enough in the final third, which is something we have to work on. It was similar at times against Denmark, and if we can work on that and become more effective, we'll do all right."