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Newcastle nearing deals for Dwight Gayle, Matt Ritchie - reports

The ESPN FC crew debate Rafa Benitez's decision to remain at Newcastle and whether or not he can bring them back to the Premier League.
Dwight Gayle gets another chance on Sunday to make life miserable for Liverpool.
Dwight Gayle has scored 26 goals in 74 appearances for Crystal Palace.

Newcastle are closing in on the signings of Crystal Palace striker Dwight Gayle and Bournemouth winger Matt Ritchie, according to a Press Association Sport report.

The northeast club hope to complete the deals for both players before the end of the week and could confirm the signings on Thursday as they make clear their intention to try and bounce straight back to the Premier League following relegation in May.

Sources also say that Palace are poised to trigger the £13 million release clause...

 By PA Sport

Fans unhappy over under-23 team plans for EFL Trophy

Barnsley won the competition, then known as the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, in April.

Football fans have reacted angrily to a plan to allow Premier League clubs to field under-23 teams with up to four overage players in the EFL Trophy next season.

Radical plans to revamp the competition, previously known as the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, were announced earlier this month.

But the decision to expand the now sponsor-less competition to a 64-team format comprising teams from League One, League Two and 16 "category-one" academies was far from unanimous.

Several English Football League...

 By PA Sport

Newcastle sign Belgium goalkeeper Matz Sels from Gent

Rafa Benitez thumbs up
Rafa Benitez has made Matz Sels his first signing of the summer at Newcastle United.

Newcastle have signed goalkeeper Matz Sels from KAA Gent for an undisclosed fee.

Sels, 24, has signed a five-year contract after the two clubs agreed a reported £4.5 million, making him Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez's first summer signing.

Middlesbrough had also been reported to have held talks with Sels, but Benitez has made bringing in a goalkeeper his first priority after agreeing to remain at St James' Park following relegation to the Championship.

"I am really pleased to welcome Matz to...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Stiliyan Petrov back in Aston Villa training as he bids to make comeback

Former Aston Villa and Bulgaria captain Stiliyan Petrov is launching a comeback after his battle with leukaemia.

Stiliyan Petrov has returned to training with Aston Villa four years after being diagnosed with leukaemia.

Petrov, 36, is in remission after his battle with acute leukaemia and announced in April that he was planning to make a playing comeback.

New Villa manager Roberto Di Matteo has given his blessing for the former captain to join the squad at their training camp in Austria, and he was seen at the club's training base on Wednesday ahead of his first session with team.

 By PA Sport

Norwich's Kyle Lafferty preparing to look for new club this summer

Kyle Lafferty
Kyle Lafferty represented Northern Ireland at Euro 2016.

Northern Ireland international Kyle Lafferty has accepted his time at Norwich is seemingly over.

Lafferty, 28, started twice for his country at Euro 2016, despite not starting for his parent club since January 2015.

The striker has since been loaned out to Turkish side Rizespor and Championship outfit Birmingham, and does not expect to be part of the Canaries' upcoming campaign in the final year of his deal.

Lafferty, who scored seven times in the qualifying campaign for Euro 2016, recently got...