England manager Gareth Southgate was reportedly left blindsided by Tariq Lamptey’s decision to switch nationality after the Brighton right-back announced his decision to represent Ghana.
According to sources inside the England camp, Lamptey was viewed as an essential component within Southgate’s pioneering new eight right-back system which is set to debut at this year’s Qatar World Cup. Alongside Kyle Walker, Reece James, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Kieran Trippier, James Justin and Matty Cash, the plan was to use Lamptey to create overloads on the right side of the field while one of the other seven right-sided fullbacks whipped in crosses to England frontmen Harry Kane and Tammy Abraham.
Southgate held crunch talks with Lamptey back in March of this year but after assuring Lamptey that being England’s fifth-choice right-back is better than being England’s first-choice left-back, he thought he’d done enough to convince the Brighton star to stick with England. When news of Lamptey’s decision broke, the Three Lions boss was said to be apoplectic – an unnamed member of Gareth Southgate’s coaching staff told us that Southgate locked himself in his office, tore off his waistcoat, and penned an angry letter to the Ghanaian FA as Frankee’s 2004 hit ‘Fuck You Right Back’ played on repeat – the music so loud that it could be heard during an England U9s game where parents were left incensed by the song’s x-rated lyrics.
Southampton’s Kyle Walker-Peters is now expected to take Lamptey’s place in the starting lineup, however, with only Luke Ayling and Max Aarons left to cover for England’s eight starting right-backs, Southgate is concerned that he’ll be left without a plan B in the event of an injury or late-game fatigue. One source told us that Southgate has reached out to Gary Neville in case of emergency, with the England manager favouring the ability to play right-back over fitness, match sharpness, or even talent.
Shockwaves have been sent through the footballing world today after UEFA announced that the 2021 European Championship will now be played in Saudi Arabia, following a successful meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Despite strong opposition from the FA, the decision is said to be final and Saudi Arabia are expected to begin preparations as early as next week. UEFA bosses have cited the Gulf nation’s excellent Covid-19 record as one of the deciding factors behind awarding them the tournament, and have that claimed money was never even a consideration, in a statement issued to press from a recently-acquired UEFA yacht.
When questioned by media about Saudi Arabia’s appalling human rights record, unforgiving climate and unusual location, a UEFA spokesperson offered a strongly worded retort defending their new hosts, saying: ‘Saudi Arabia is a proud and progressive nation, any lies you have heard are no doubt a result of Western propaganda, and it’s actually more reminiscent of Europe than you might think. The women are even allowed to drive nowadays.’
Mohammed bin Salman proudly announced that no expense would be spared, telling reporters: ‘Nothing will stop our stadiums from being completed on time, no matter the financial cost or the cost to human life.’
‘If Qatar can manage 6,500 dead workers then I’d like to think that, in the time we have, we could at least double that,’ he later added.
The entire tournament is now expected to be held between the 16th June and the 3rd of July, with the bottom team in each group expected to be hanged at the closing ceremony.
Leicester City star Harvey Barnes has been lined up to replace Academy Award winner Denzel Washington in the third instalment of The Equalizer film franchise.
Rumours of Barnes’ involvement began to swirl last month after his name appeared in a leaked excerpt from the film’s screenplay. Barnes already knows plenty about getting even, but rather than rescuing points for The Foxes, it seems he’ll now be rescuing hostages from the clutches of an armed militia.
Explaining Denzel’s departure from the franchise, director Antoine Fuqua told reporters: ‘Filming was pushed back because of the pandemic, and Denzel had a few other commitments coming up. Ultimately, we realised we’d need to look elsewhere. Once Harvey became available, we knew we had our guy.’
Asked what the England international would bring to the role, Fuqua added, ‘Harvey’s got everything you might want in an action star, speed, agility, impressive shooting. And seeing Leicester reach the top of the table last week, that shows me that he can succeed against all odds – he’s the human embodiment of the Equalizer.’
Filming is now expected to begin at the conclusion of the 2020/21 season, either side of the rescheduled Euro 2020 tournament – with Barnes’ big screen debut currently slated for a summer 2022 release.
Footballers must ‘change their behaviours’ to adjust to coronavirus rules both on and off the pitch, the Premier League boss has said, meaning no more hugs – whether that be with teammates, spouses or even their own children.
‘Players need to realise that they’re role models, and while they may not be killing each other, a small child could copy a celebration, pass on the virus, and someone else could die as a result, and if that were to happen, the blame would lay squarely at the feet of the players. And as far as I’m concerned, any player who chooses to celebrate a goal is a murderer,’ Richard Masters told Sky Sports.
Players are now being asked to refrain from showing affection until the end of the season, and as of today, any Premier League player seen hugging another individual will face a hefty fine. Additionally, repeat offenders and cases where hugging leads to kissing will be met with lengthy suspensions. ‘We’re not asking for much here,’ added Masters.
Julian Knight, the chair of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, welcomed the move, saying: ‘If the players thought Marcus Rashford could just stroll in here and tell us how to do our jobs, embarrassing us in front of the whole country without any repercussions, then they’re sorely mistaken. Now the players will know what it feels like to be blamed.’
The updated measures are expected to prove particularly challenging for England centre-back Harry Maguire, whose hands-on approach to man-marking could fall foul of the new guidelines. However, the new rules aren’t likely to apply to Manchester United players.