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How will the absence of Kyle Bartley affect Swansea City?

Jake Jackman

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Bartley

This was billed as a big season for Kyle Bartley as he was given another chance at Swansea City after an impressive loan spell at Leeds United. However, disaster has struck early for the 26-year-old after he was stretchered off last month against MK Dons. It looked a bad injury at the time and Sky Sports report that he will be out for three months after undergoing successful surgery on his knee.

The injury came as a result of landing awkwardly after challenging for a header. The centre-back had started the recent match against Manchester United and looked on the brink of breaking into the first-team. Paul Clement confirmed the extend of the injury:

“We were disappointed to lose Kyle. He has now had surgery and we expect him to be out for around 12 weeks,”

“The period of 12 weeks is an estimate, and we will have to see how Kyle responds to his rehabilitation.”

How big is this blow for Swansea?

This may not be regarded as the worst thing for the Swans, as Bartley wasn’t at the club last season and they have other centre-backs that are good enough for the Premier League. However, Clement will be disappointed to be missing Bartley for three months. The 26-yar-old had a lot of momentum after starring in the Championship last season. That will now be lost and he will have to start from scratch when he returns.

Bartley has been at the club for a number of years, but this looked to be his best opportunity to break into the first-team. He has everything to become a good Premier League defender. The 26-year-old is dominant in the air, a good reader of the game and confident on the ball. His agility and acceleration makes him a well-rounded defender. There are flaws in his game, but he has the potential to grow into a crucial member of the Swansea team.

Who will be the starting centre-backs in his absence?

Alfie Mawson has emerged as a key player during the last six months and he will be crucial for the team during Bartley’s absence. He is a commanding figure and a future captain of the club. There was a possibility that he could form an exciting partnership with Bartley, but those plans will have to be shelved until the 26-year-old returns.

The other two centre-backs at the club are Mike van der Hoorn and Federico Fernandez. The latter is more experienced and the one likely to be given the nod to start if they opt for a two-man partnership. Clement has shown his adaptability and played with a three-man defence in the last two matches, but the injury to Bartley makes it a risk to continue with that for a long-term.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

Croatia

Everton’s reported move for Croatia defender Domagoj Vida would seriously improve defence

The Croatia international would bolster Marco Silva’s options significantly.

Jamie Watts

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The world’s eyes were on Croatia last night, as Zlatko Dalic’s side dismantled Argentina 3-0. And a number of high-profile targets for Premier League clubs were in action. However, it appears Everton have identified a potential target that isn’t one of the household names, in Domagoj Vida, according to reports from Turkish outlet SABAH.

The defender currently plies his trade for Turkish giants Besiktas, having joined from Dynamo Kiev on a free transfer in January. But the 30-year-old has struggled to nail down a regular starting place at Vodafone Park. And Marco Silva could now swoop for his services, as he looks to bolster his defensive options ahead of his first season in-charge at Goodison Park.

The defender’s performance last night suggests he could be a serious coup for Silva if a deal can be completed. Vida partnered Liverpool regular Dejan Lovren at centre-back and managed to keep a star-studded Argentina attack; including the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala quiet for the duration of the game.

Photo: Getty Images

His aggression and determination was evident for all to see, as a string of last-ditch blocks and slide tackles rounded off a brilliant display for Croatia, as they secured a clean-sheet. And the dogged attitude the player showed last night, is what was largely missing from Everton’s rear-guard last term.

Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka are coming to the latter stages of their careers with the Blues, and with the departure of Ramiro Funes Mori yesterday (BBC Sport), a deal for Vida would make perfect sense on Merseyside this summer.

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Croatia

Liverpool fans want Ivan Rakitic following brilliant performance against Argentina

Liverpool fans want yet another top midfielder at the club this summer.

Jamie Watts

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Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic was nothing short of sensational last night in Croatia’s 3-0 dismantling of Argentina, and Liverpool fans have taken to social media to commend the midfielder, with many asserting that Jurgen Klopp should sign him this summer.

Luka Modric was in his usual scintillating form in the centre of the park, but Rakitic was equally as good, and the two essentially ran the game for the whole duration, as Argentina scratched their heads for a way to get into the game.

Photo: Getty Images

The 30-year-old rounded off a truly dominant display by slotting home into an empty net from close range, after Mateo Kovacic unselfishly played him in, but it was nothing less than Rakatic’s performance deserved on the night.

Reds fans, having already secured the high-profile signings of Naby Keita and Fabinho, took to Twitter to suggest that the club should complete a hat-trick of midfield acquisitions this summer and bring the £60 million rated man to Anfield.

Here’s the reaction:

It has to be said that the logistics of completing a deal for the Barcelona man, who was ever-present in the side last season, make any serious movement unlikely on Liverpool’s front. But many are starting to regret the club’s decision to turn their nose up at the prospect of signing him, in a make-weight deal for Philippe Coutinho last summer.

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Croatia

Tottenham’s interest in Croatia trio justified after sensational team performance against Argentina

Tottenham fans will have heard a few familiar names last night.

Jamie Watts

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Croatia heaped further misery on Argentina’s already shaky World Cup opening last night, dismantling them 3-0, and taking the top spot of Group D in the process. And Tottenham fans will have been particularly interested in the clash.

Not only was former fan-favourite Luka Modric in his usual scintillating form, but a trio of closely linked players were deployed on the night, and all three put in exceptional performances.

Ivan Perisic put in a typically tireless display last night, alternating between all three-front roles at times, while showing maturity in his decision making and genuine quality in his end product after marauding runs down both flanks. And Pochettino will have taken notice, as his side were reportedly interested in bringing the 29-year-old to north London last month, according to Calcio Mercato.

Photo: Getty Images

On top of that, the Spurs-linked midfield duo also performed brilliantly when called upon. Marcelo Brozovic (Calcio Mercato) – also of Inter Milan – showed his ability to steady the ship in defensive midfield, in what was a frantic game at times, sparking counter attacks with his vision and cultured weight of pass, whilst keeping the shackles on Lionel Messi.

And Mateo Kovacic (AS), rounded off a dogged team performance with a few moments brilliance. Upon arriving into the game in the closing stages, he used his exceptional dribbling and balance to trouble a weary Argentina back-line, before showing an extremely cool head to pick out Rakitic under-pressure in the box for his outfit’s third goal.

Photo: Getty Images

All three put in performances worthy of top level clubs, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Pochettino elevate his interest in all three after last night.

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