Despite the change and uncertainty at Manchester United since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement, the one constant on the pitch has been a dysfunctional midfield.

The Red Devils appear intent on changing that, amid the backdrop of Paul Pogba's contract expiring at the end of the season, while a season remains on Nemanja Matic's deal after the end of this term.

Their idea of a solution will reportedly come from within the Premier League.

 

TOP STORY – MANCHESTER UNITED TARGET WARD-PROWSE

Incoming Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag wants James Ward-Prowse to spearhead a transformation of his new side's midfield, The Sun is reporting.

Ten Hag faces a substantial rebuild at Old Trafford and with the club set to miss out on Champions League qualification, a £150million asking price from West Ham for Declan Rice reportedly appears too steep.

Ward-Prowse appears to be the alternative, with Ten Hag reportedly an admirer and reportedly costing half the price of Rice. 

The 27-year-old's contract with Southampton runs until 2026, but the lure of a club of United's stature would be hard to resist.

ROUND-UP

- Ousmane Dembele has a more lucrative offer from  Paris Saint-Germain but the 24-year-old is intent on staying at Barcelona, Sport is reporting.

- Manchester City are confident Pep Guardiola will sign a new deal at the end of the season, with the Sunday Mirror reporting talks have taken place to extend his tenure to 2025.

- The Sunday Mirror is also reporting that Manchester United are interested in signing Feyenoord's 22-year-old left-back, Tyrell Malacia.

- Milan have agreed terms with Lille to sign  Renato Sanches, per Calciomercato, with the midfielder set to join for €20million plus add-ons.

It is all change in the England squad, with two players dropping out, and Emile Smith Rowe earning a first senior call up from Gareth Southgate.

Smith Rowe has been in excellent form for Arsenal this season, but was not initially included in Southgate's squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Albania and San Marino.

The midfielder, who was handed Arsenal's number 10 shirt for 2021-22, has appeared in every Premier League game for the Gunners this term.

His tally of 15 chances created ranks him second in Arsenal's squad, behind Bukayo Saka (19). He has provided two league assists and scored four goals, meaning he is the club's joint-top scorer in the top flight alongside captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

After initially arriving at St George's Park to be part of the England Under-21 squad, Smith Rowe will instead join the senior side after Marcus Rashford and James Ward-Prowse dropped out.

Rashford has only just returned from a long injury lay off following shoulder surgery, and will remain at Manchester United in order to work his way back to fitness, while Southampton's Ward-Prowse is ill.

Southgate might also be without regulars Luke Shaw and Mason Mount. The United full-back is following concussion protocol after sustaining a head injury in Saturday's derby defeat to Manchester City and will continue to be assessed by the club before being released for international duty. 

Mount, meanwhile, has had his arrival pushed back by dental surgery and will be monitored over the coming days.

England host Albania on Friday, before taking on San Marino three days later. Four points from the two matches will guarantee their place in Qatar.

Bukayo Saka and Tammy Abraham were on target as England cruised to a comfortable 5-0 win over Andorra in World Cup qualifying Group I on Saturday.

Gareth Southgate named a largely second-string outfit at the Estadi Nacional but they had no problem dispatching a side ranked 153 places beneath them, Ben Chilwell setting them on their way in the 17th minute with his first international goal. 

Bukayo Saka added a second before half-time, while Tammy Abraham, James Ward-Prowse and Jack Grealish sealed the most routine of wins in the second period. 

A sixth win in seven group games means England move onto 19 points at the summit, while Andorra remain in fifth on three points. 

James Ward-Prowse has received a late England call-up to replace the injured Kalvin Phillips for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary.

Leeds United midfielder Phillips has been ruled out with a calf strain he suffered in his club's 1-0 win over Watford on Saturday.

Ward-Prowse, who became the fourth Southampton player to both score and be sent off in a Premier League match after Peter Crouch (May 2005), Sadio Mane (October 2015) and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (December 2018) after he followed up a successfully converted penalty with a straight red card in the defeat to Chelsea on Saturday, is the latest addition to the squad for manager Gareth Southgate.

England's manager is already without a host of players for the October fixtures.

Reece James was ruled out on Monday, the Chelsea defender replaced by club colleague Ben Chilwell, who was part of England's Euro 2020 squad but did not feature in the tournament.

Meanwhile, ex-Blues striker Tammy Abraham was another to be drafted in, his addition coming amid the absences of Patrick Bamford, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Marcus Rashford.

Defensive duo Harry Maguire and Trent-Alexander Arnold are also sidelined, while Southgate opted to leave out Jude Bellingham and Mason Greenwood, allowing the young duo to rest.

Phillips started all seven games as Southgate's Three Lions reached the European Championship final. Indeed, only goalkeeper Jordan Pickford (690) and John Stones (679) played more minutes in the campaign.

The 25-year-old ended the tournament with a passing accuracy of 85.92 per cent, creating three chances in the process, though missed out on glory as Italy secured the trophy via a penalty shoot-out win at Wembley Stadium.

Sitting top of Group I in the quest to qualify for Qatar 2022, England visit Andorra on Saturday before hosting Hungary three days later.

Trent Alexander-Arnold survived the cull of England's extended Euro 2020 squad as Gareth Southgate named his final 26-man list on Tuesday.

The Liverpool defender, arguably the standout full-back in world football in the 2019-20 season, was expected by many to pay the price for a dip in form over the previous nine months.

England have riches at the position, and Southgate has also selected further specialist right-backs in Atletico Madrid's Kieran Trippier, Manchester City's Kyle Walker and Chelsea's Reece James.

The players to miss out as Southgate trimmed the 33-man group he named last week were Jesse Lingard, Ben Godfrey, Aaron Ramsdale, Ollie Watkins, James Ward-Prowse and Ben White, with Mason Greenwood withdrawing from contention due to what his club, Manchester United, described as an "underlying injury".

Lingard had a highly productive second half of the season on loan at West Ham, but it was not enough to persuade the Three Lions boss.

Southgate said that decision proved "very difficult".

The players who were excluded will remain with the squad over the coming days and could feature in friendlies against Austria on Wednesday and Romania on Sunday, both of which will be played at Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium.

Southgate said Lingard was likely to start the game against Austria.

The inclusion of defender Harry Maguire follows concern over the Manchester United player's ankle injury, which ruled him out of the Europa League final.

Southgate said he had "a lot more clarity" over who would be available for his squad after United's clash with Villarreal and the Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City.

Of those who missed out on his tournament selection, he said: "I know what a disappointment that is for them, not to be going to a major championship.

"With Jordan [Henderson] and Harry Maguire we have a couple of players who are not where they'd be ideally in terms of their physical prep. But we feel the experience they have, the fact we think we can get them to a point where they can have an involvement in the tournament, it's worth taking them, especially as we've got an extended squad of 26."
 

England squad for Euro 2020:

Dean Henderson (Manchester United), Sam Johnstone (West Brom), Jordan Pickford (Everton); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolves), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City); Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds), Declan Rice (West Ham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund); Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).

Trent Alexander-Arnold survived the cull of England's extended Euro 2020 squad as Gareth Southgate named his final 26-man list on Tuesday.

The Liverpool defender, arguably the standout full-back in world football in the 2019-20 season, was expected by many to pay the price for a dip in form over the previous nine months.

England have riches at the position, and Southgate has also selected further specialist right-backs in Atletico Madrid's Kieran Trippier, Manchester City's Kyle Walker and Chelsea's Reece James.

The players to miss out as Southgate trimmed the 33-man group he named last week were Jesse Lingard, Ben Godfrey, Aaron Ramsdale, Ollie Watkins, James Ward-Prowse and Ben White, with Mason Greenwood withdrawing from contention due to what his club, Manchester United, described as an "underlying injury".
 

England squad for Euro 2020:

Dean Henderson (Manchester United), Sam Johnstone (West Brom), Jordan Pickford (Everton); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolves), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City); Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds), Declan Rice (West Ham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund); Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).

Dominic Calvert-Lewin struck twice and Ollie Watkins scored a debut goal as England started their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 5-0 thrashing of San Marino at Wembley.

Gareth Southgate was able to celebrate his 50th match as manager of his country with a Group I victory which should have been much more emphatic on Thursday.

James Ward-Prowse opened the scoring with his first senior international goal before Calvert-Lewin and Raheem Sterling got in on the act in a first half that saw England waste a host of clear-cut chances.

Calvert-Lewin doubled his tally early in the second half and substitute Watkins was on target on his Three Lions bow on another tough night for a San Marino team sitting at the bottom of the FIFA rankings, with much bigger tests to come for England on the road to Qatar 2022.

San Marino were chasing shadows from the start, but Calvert-Lewin somehow failed to convert Reece James' cross and Sterling – named as captain with Harry Kane on the bench – was off target with two close-range headers.

It was only a matter of time before England took the lead and Ward-Prowse was the man to put them in front, sweeping home Ben Chilwell's cutback with his left foot 14 minutes in.

Calvert-Lewin doubled their advantage by nodding in James' inviting cross and Chilwell's rasping drive was superbly tipped over by Elia Benedettini before Sterling punished San Marino for trying to play out from the back, cutting inside before finding the net with a deflected right-foot finish.

England were relentless, with Mason Mount pulling the strings, and the recalled Jesse Lingard scuffed wastefully wide from close range before he was denied by a brilliant save from Benedettini late in the first half.

Southgate made four changes at the break, with Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden among the quartet to come on and Sterling handing the armband to Conor Coady.

It was all too easy for England as Calvert-Lewin tapped in the lively Lingard's cross in the 53rd minute, but there was to be no hat-trick for the Everton striker as he was replaced by Watkins.

Ward-Prowse came close to a second when Benedettini produced another fine save to keep out the midfielder's whipped free-kick and Watkins volleyed into the turf and over the crossbar moments later.

Watkins was not to be denied seven minutes from time, though, controlling the ball just inside the area and drilling home with his right foot.

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