Thursday Kickoff: Sturridge left off England squad; Messi claims contract renewal was simple; and more

Thursday Kickoff: Sturridge left off England squad; Messi claims contract renewal was simple; and more

European Soccer

Thursday Kickoff: Sturridge left off England squad; Messi claims contract renewal was simple; and more

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DanielSturridgeEngland1-Norway2014 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

Roy Hodgson has conceded in his war of words with Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers.

The England manager left injured forward Daniel Sturridge off the national team squad for a pair of Euro 2016 qualifiers against San Marino and Estonia this month. Hodgson instead took just three forwards: Danny Welbeck, Wayne Rooney, and Rickie Lambert.

“That’s a great blow for us and it’s been a big blow for Liverpool, of course, and it will continue to be,” Hodgson said in a press conference about Sturridge’s injury. “It’s also a blow for the player because he was very anxious to be a part of these two games, but unfortunately injuries happen and we all accept it so there are no problems or conflict there at all.”

Sturridge suffered a thigh injury in training ahead of England’s opening Euro 2016 qualification match against Switzerland and has missed Liverpool’s last six matches as he recovers. Rodgers harshly criticized the England national team, claiming that the training methods injured Sturridge.

Here are some more stories to kick off your Thursday:

MESSI NAMED GILLETTE AMBASSADOR, SAYS CONTRACT RENEWAL GOING SMOOTHLY

Lionel Messi is sticking with the party line, that he has no desire to ever leave the club he’s called home for 14 years.

At a sponsorship event where Messi was named a Latin American ambassador for Gillette in a new partnership with Barcelona, Messi stated that his contract negotiations with Barcelona were quick and easy, allowing him to keep his focus on the field.

“No it was a very quick, simple process,” Messi told the assembled media during the event. “There were no particular problems and I signed immediately. I had no doubts about continuing here.”

Many reports in Spain last season speculated that Messi was unhappy at Barcelona, a point pushed further by comments made by Barcelona vice president Javier Faus last December. Messi, however, signed an improved contract in May 2014, with reports in Spain stating he would receive a salary increase of upwards of 20 million euros ($25 million) per year.

Messi also said at the event that he doesn’t feel he’s competing with Cristiano Ronaldo, and that he thinks Neymar can become one of the best in the world when he realizes his potential.

REUS RETURNS TO TRAINING, LEFT OFF GERMANY SQUAD

Marco Reus is recovering well from his latest ankle ligament injury, but he is still a few weeks away from making a full return.

The star Borussia Dortmund midfielder returned to full training this week but was left off the German national team squad for Euro 2016 qualification matches against Poland (Oct. 11) and Scotland (Oct. 14). Reus was injured during Germany’s match against Scotland on Sept. 8, tearing his ankle ligaments again.

He suffered a setback last week after complaining about leg muscle pain, pushing his return back to Borussia Dortmund’s first game after the international break against FC Köln on Oct. 18.

Meanwhile, Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Karim Bellarabi has earned his first call-up to Die Mannschaft.

QUICK KICKS

Didier Deschamps has recalled Andre-Pierre Gignac and Dimitri Payet for upcoming friendlies against Portugal and Armenia. (REPORT)

Club America have become the first Liga MX club to qualify for the Apertura playoffs, with six games remaining in the regular season. (REPORT)

Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski could leave Arsenal in a bid for regular first-team minutes. (REPORT)

Brazilian right back Dani Alves told Brazil’s O Globo that he will be leaving Barcelona at the end of the season to move to England. (REPORT)

Schalke 04 right back Atsuto Ochida has signed a contract extension through 2018. (REPORT)

Former Hamburg manager Mirko Slomka is suing the club for his firing in mid-September. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Surprised that Hodgson gave in to Rodgers’ pressure? What do you think of Messi’s comments? Do you see Reus returning to action after the international break?

Share your thoughts below.

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