Capello calls up Welbeck
Striker Danny Welbeck was called into the England squad for the first time since March for Wednesday’s friendly against the Netherlands, while Micah Richards returned following an injury to first-choice rightback Glen Johnson. There are 11 players from Manchester United and Manchester City, who contested the Community Shield yesterday, in Fabio Capello’s 25-man squad, with United reserve Welbeck, 20, included as the fourth striker, with Jermain Defoe and Darren Bent missing out. Three players from the second-tier Championship have also been called up for the match, with West Ham United midfielder Scott Parker and goalkeeper Robert Green having so far failed to secure top-flight moves following the club’s relegation. Goalkeeper David Stockdale is also playing in the Championship on loan at Ipswich Town from Premier League Fulham. There was no place for Tottenham Hotspur winger Aaron Lennon, but Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere was included, despite picking up a knock in a friendly.
Blues set to sign Lukaku
Chelsea were set to sign Belgian wonderkid Romelu Lukaku from RSC Anderlecht after agreeing a fee for the striker on Saturday. Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas had spoken of his admiration for Lukaku following Chelsea’s friendly win over Rangers and just hours later the Premier League club moved closer to sealing a deal for the 18-year-old. Lukaku, who has been capped 10 times by Belgium, has been on Chelsea’s wanted list for several months after he scored 16 league goals in 37 appearances for Anderlecht last season. Chelsea also confirmed on Saturday that Russia midfielder Yuri Zhirkov will return home in a move to Anzhi Makhachkala after two seasons at Stamford Bridge.
Wimbledon lose on debut
AFC Wimbledon’s Football League debut ended in defeat as Bristol Rovers snatched a 3-2 victory at Kingsmeadow on Saturday. AFC were formed in 2002 by supporters of Wimbledon angry at the southwest London club’s decision to relocate 90km north to Milton Keynes in a bid to attract bigger crowds. Wimbledon were eventually renamed Milton Keynes Dons, while AFC began a remarkable bid to recapture the spirit of their club’s self-styled “Crazy Gang,” who famously shocked Liverpool to win the 1988 FA Cup final with a team including the likes of Dennis Wise, Vinnie Jones and John Fashanu. AFC had to start in the lower reaches of non-league soccer, but they finally reached the Football League when a Conference playoff final victory over Luton Town last season clinched a fifth promotion in nine years. Their party went slightly flat on Saturday, though, as Rovers snatched a late winner.
Sochi pull out of league
Zhemchuzhina Sochi have become the latest Russian professional soccer club to drop out of the championship because of financial difficulties, the second division side said on Saturday. “Today, club president Dmitry Yakushev told the players that Zhemchuzhina will no longer be able to play in the national league,” Sochi said on their Web site. The pullout is a huge blow to the sporting image of the Black Sea resort, which will host the Winter Olympics in 2014, as well as matches in the 2018 World Cup. Several other top Russian clubs have also been liquidated in the last 18 months. Saturn Ramenskoye filed for bankruptcy at the end of last year, while fellow strugglers FK Moscow were disbanded in February last year.