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Championship

Could Kit Symons convince Ross McCormack into Sunderland switch?

Mathew Nash

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This week has seen reports emerge that Aston Villa will look to release striker Ross McCormack in the summer. The Telegraph report that Villa could end the Scotland striker’s spell at Villa Park two years early after a torrid time in the Midlands.

The 31-year-old signed for Villa after three incredible goalscoring seasons with Leeds United and then Fulham. The fee to bring him to Bodymoor Heath was in the region of £12 million, according to BBC Sport.

But in two seasons at Villa Park he has played just 24 times and scored two goals. Signed by Roberto Di Matteo, a massive bust-up with his new manager Steve Bruce saw the Scot frozen out. He has since spent time on loan with Nottingham Forest and Melbourne City.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – AUGUST 16: Ross McCormack of Aston Villa celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Aston Villa and Huddersfield Town at Villa Park on August 16, 2016 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

So with McCormack a free transfer in the summer, who will risk his signature?

One team that surely will be interested is Sunderland. The Black Cats look doomed to League One and will be looking for new recruits to take them back to the Championship at the first time of asking.

Sunderland have been linked before. Sky Sports reported Sunderland tried to sign him on loan in the summer, which would have reunited him with former Leeds boss Simon Grayson. However the Daily Star suggested Bruce pulled the plug on the deal as he saw Sunderland as promotion rivals, how wrong he was.

But Sunderland have another link to the player at the club currently. Grayson may be gone, replaced by former Wales manager Chris Coleman, but his assistant Kit Symons does know McCormack well. He was the striker’s manager for 13 months at Craven Cottage. McCormack won the club’s player of the year award under his guidance and would surely love to work with him again.

LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 18: Kit Symons manager of Fulham looks on prior to the Sky Bet Championship match between Fulham and Leeds United at Craven Cottage on March 18, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

McCormack would be a gamble. On top of his recent troubles there is expense, the Scot will want a good wage at Sunderland which may be dependent on any potential summer takeover. But he is a proven goalscorer and in Australia this season was prolific – scoring 14 goals in 17 appearances.

If Symons can convince him to cut his wage demands McCormack could be the perfect signing to guide Sunderland back to the Championship in the likely event of relegation.

Sports journalist based in Bristol. Previously spent five years writing for HITC Sport. Everton fan for my sins.

Bournemouth

Fantasy Premier League: Five players to sign for matchweek two

There is plenty of names to swoop for ahead of the weekend’s fixtures.

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Photo: Getty Images

Fantasy Premier League returned with a bang last weekend, with a number of high-scorers handing plenty of players a solid start to the new campaign.

Popular players Sadio Mane, Richarlison and Aaron Wan-Bissaka all rewarded those who selected them on the opening weekend, each earning 12+ points, while Watford duo Roberto Pereyra (5.2%) and Jose Holebas (5.1%) also caught the eye and secured huge points for the few that opted for the Hornets pair.

Ahead of matchweek two in the Premier League, we have searched the databases for five players you should definitely look to pick up to provide your team with a boost.

Bernardo Silva: Manchester City

The news of Kevin De Bruyne’s knee injury has sent shockwaves across FPL, with 16.8% of players still having the Belgium international in their squad. If you fall into that category, you should definitely look at dropping the midfielder.

(Photo by James Baylis – AMA/Getty Images)

Bernardo Silva is the most likely candidate to step up for the Citizens in De Bruyne’s absence and he enters this weekend’s clash with Huddersfield Town in decent form, scoring the second goal in last week’s 2-0 victory over Arsenal.

Huddersfield conceded 58 goals last season, more than relegated pair West Brom and Swansea City, so Silva can be expected to add to his eight-point haul against the Terriers – especially as he has scored five goals in his last seven starts.

Ryan Fraser: Bournemouth

Scorer of the opening goal for Bournemouth in last weekend’s victory over Cardiff City, Ryan Fraser brought home 11 points for the few managers who had the midfielder in their side – and just 2.3% of managers have the 24-year-old in their squad.

Costing £5.5m, Fraser is perhaps a more expensive option to other creative players at lower-end Premier League sides to consider but he certainly has the form to make his outlay worthwhile – as he has been directly involved in six goals in his last six matches at the Vitality Stadium (four goals, two assists).

The Cherries are away from home this weekend against a West Ham side that were torn about by Liverpool on the opening weekend and Fraser could hold the key to breaking down Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

Ben Mee: Burnley

While the rest of the Premier League prepares for their second match, Burnley are well into their stride as Europa League qualifiers mean that Sean Dyche’s side have already played five matches this season – and they are in superb form.

The Clarets have now registered three consecutive clean sheets across all competitions following Thursday night’s 1-0 victory over Istanbul Basaksehir, although extra time could have taken some wind out of Burnley’s sails.

Hosting Watford this weekend, Ben Mee and the Burnley defence will face a stern test but history favours the hosts – who have not lost to the Hornets at Turf Moor since 2004, securing three clean sheets in the last three meetings in Lancashire.

Roberto Pereyra: Watford

Selected by 5.2% of managers heading into matchweek two, many may believe that Roberto Pereyra’s 16 point haul last weekend was just a freak occurrence after the 2-0 win over Brighton but the stats suggest that is not the case.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Pereyra has now hit four goals in his last five Premier League games at Vicarage Road and now faces the challenge of transferring that form into away matches – and a game against a tired Burnley side who played 120 minutes in midweek is the ideal opportunity for him to shine.

Watford need to build upon last weekend’s win as they have a tough run of fixtures coming up against Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal, with Pereyra’s attacking flair potentially providing the key to breaking down a resilient Burnley defence.

Neil Etheridge: Cardiff City

In last weekend’s 2-0 defeat to Bournemouth, Neil Etheridge became the first goalkeeper to save a penalty on his Premier League debut since Allan McGregor in 2013 by denying Callum Wilson from the spot – earning six points in the process.

The Welsh side are back at home this weekend against a Newcastle United outfit who continue to suffer under the tyranny of Mike Ashley. Defeat last weekend against Spurs was not surprising but has raised the pressure for Rafael Benitez’s side.

28-year-old Etheridge is a good bet to pick up further points this weekend against a Magpies side that scored just 39 goals in 38 matches last term, the lowest tally of any top-ten side excluding Burnley.

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Wolverhampton Wanderers

Paul Gladon may need to change his thinking to seal Wolves exit

The Dutch striker has no chance of regular football at Molineux this season.

Mathew Nash

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In the summer of 2016 Wolverhampton Wanderers snapped up Dutch striker Paul Gladon from Heracles Almelo. The striker had a good scoring record in the past with the likes of Sparta Rotterdam and FC Dordrecht.

However, the £1 million signing has struggled in England.

Gladon featured just three times in his debut season and was cast aside by Paul Lambert after his arrival in November 2016.

Then the Fosun era got into full flow and with the influx of new players Gladon found himself out of favour. He was loaned back to Heracles last season where he made minimal impact.


“He’s just not part of it. I’ve got so many players here. Paul has maybe found it hard himself. I think it’s maybe thrown him as well, how hard it is. I’ve just got to go with ones I think can do it, week in week out.”

– Former Wolves boss Paul Lambert on Gladon’s struggles


The signing of Gladon seemed puzzling at the time and now, with Wolves in the Premier League, his chances of playing for Wolves again appear incredibly slim.

Gladon, like Joe Mason, Dominic Iorfa and Michal Zyro to name a few, has become one of Wolves’ outcasts and he needs to be shifted before the end of the month. Roda JC and FC Twente came knocking in July but, as reported by Tribal Football, he does not wish to play in the Dutch second-tier.

With time running out to find a new club he may want to revisit that stance or spend a season in the reserves.

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Aston Villa

After finally starting first Aston Villa game, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy must take chance

Aston Villa will hope Hepburn-Murphy can thrive at Villa Park.

Mathew Nash

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Aston Villa faced Yeovil in the League Cup this week. A solitary goal from Conor Hourihane gave the Championship side the win and advancement to the second round. It was also a game which saw Steve Bruce give a chance to several young talents.

One such player was forward Rushian Hepburn-Murphy. The 19-year-old may have made his debut under Tim Sherwood way back in 2015, but this was actually his first start for his hometown club.

Hepburn-Murphy has been in and around the first-team for some time. His goalscoring record with the development team is a testament to his talents and Aston Villa fans are backing him for success.

(Photo by Peter Haygarth/ActionPlus/Corbis via Getty Images)

He currently has a chance in the first-team and, he needs to take it now.

With Scott Hogan injured and Aston Villa not making big transfer moves so far this summer, suddenly Hepburn-Murphy has a chance to cement his place in the first-team picture.

The teenager, who has had to battle injury trouble in recent seasons, has the perfect opportunity in his hands. He worked tirelessly against Yeovil and that will put him in good stead. But a goal or two would get that monkey off his back and have Aston Villa fans calling for him to remain in Bruce’s plans.

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