Manchester United striker Rasmus Hojlund is due to miss next weekend’s derby against Manchester City after suffering a muscle injury in a significant blow for manager Erik ten Hag.

The in-form 21-year-old, who had scored seven goals in his last six appearances for United, will sit out Saturday’s Premier League match against Fulham and Wednesday’s FA Cup fifth-round tie at Nottingham Forest.

United said the Denmark international is expected to miss two to three weeks, a timeframe that would also rule him out of the trip to the Etihad Stadium a week on Sunday.

“It’s a small injury, two to three weeks,” Ten Hag said in Friday’s press conference. “That’s what happened, that is the risk playing high intensity, training. It’s not a big injury but he has to wait now for two, three weeks.”

Hojlund’s injury – which comes in the same week that Luke Shaw was ruled out for several months – leaves Ten Hag short of options in attack with Anthony Martial already sidelined until April following a groin operation and it is likely that Marcus Rashford will be asked to play in a central role.

Ten Hag was speaking for the first time since Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s purchase of a minority stake in the club was ratified and after the billionaire gave a wide-ranging interview in midweek in which he laid out ambitious plans to knock the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool “off their perch”.

Ten Hag said he and Ratcliffe, whose Ineos group have taken control of footballing operations following the deal, are on the same page.

“We speak a lot, we have many conversations with him and with Dave Brailsford (Ineos director of sport) about this club, about the team about the structures,” he said. “We are very aligned. Their ambitions fit with the ambitions I have, with the ambitions I had when I came in.

“We are in that project now. For me, I’m 18, 19 months in and I see (things) go in the right direction. We had setbacks in the second season but you see the team coming, you see the squad progressing and developing.”

And the Dutchman denied that he would find himself under increased pressure given the expectations that Ratcliffe will have for the club. United have won four in a row in the league but remain five points adrift of the top four.

“No more pressure because we have the same ambition, we have the same targets,” Ten Hag said. “I see the process and I see this team is developing, it’s progressing.

“I see we have now also the right age across the squad, we can make that even stronger and they will grow and we will do everything in our power. There is strong competition and there are reasons behind it.

“We still have to catch up in the moment where every game is a final for us because we have to be in the Champions League. The players want this, the team want this but we have to believe.”

Injuries, however, could be the thing that derails United’s bid to break into the top four.

Hojlund and Shaw have joined an injury list that already includes Martial, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Lisandro Martinez, Mason Mount and Tyrell Malacia.

“Of course that is an issue but other clubs have this and we have to deal with this,” Ten Hag said. “I feel we can deal with it better but still it’s an issue with the depth of the squad, and the squad have to prove it.”

Manchester United’s squad at the end of last season was the most expensively-assembled on record, according to a UEFA report.

The Red Devils’ squad at 2023’s financial year-end cost a collective 1.42 billion euros (£1.21bn) in transfer fees, eclipsing the figure of 1.33 billion euros recorded by Real Madrid in 2020.

The United squad at the end of 2022-23 included £82million Brazilian winger Antony, £80m England defender Harry Maguire, £73m signing Jadon Sancho and the £60m Brazil midfielder Casemiro.

Further recruits last summer such as Mason Mount, Andre Onana and Rasmus Hojlund are not counted within the figures.

UEFA’s European Club Finance and Investment Landscape report found three other clubs’ squads – Manchester City, Chelsea and Real Madrid – cost more than one billion euros in transfer fees in their most recently disclosed financial year-end figures. Chelsea’s most recent figures go up to the year end June 30, 2022, and therefore do not include their heavy spending in the summer of that year or the January 2023 window.

United have become one of 15 English top-flight clubs recognised within the report as being part of a multi-club investment group, with the purchase of a 25 per cent stake by Ineos founder Sir Jim Ratcliffe almost complete. Ineos also holds majority stakes in French side Nice and Swiss club Lausanne.

In all, 105 top-division European clubs (13 per cent of the total number) have a cross-investment relationship with one or more other clubs, the report found.

There were 31 purchases of majority stakes and seven purchases of minority stakes in 2023 by groups holding a stake in at least one other European club, according to the report.

However, less than one transfer per club on average is actually executed within the same multi-club structure, the report found.

As the size of multi-club investment groups has increased, that proportion has even decreased (0.6 transfers per club in 2023 compared to 0.8 in 2021), suggesting the multi-club investment trend is not entirely driven by player transfer considerations.

Andrea Traverso, UEFA’s director of financial sustainability and research, said: “More than 300 clubs are part of multi-club investment groups, leading to an increased risk of seeing two clubs with the same owner or investor facing each other in the same competition, creating potential integrity risks at the European level.

“The current context demands strict enforcement of cost control regulations and more harmonisation of financial rules between leagues. This is paramount to limit overspending, ‘creative finance’, and rules circumvention.

“As long as differences on key regulatory matters continue between leagues, inflationary tensions will persist, contributing to imbalances and instability.”

Elsewhere, the report found spending on player wages dropped by 1.1 per cent among the clubs with the 20 largest player wage bills, with United spending 88m euros (£75m) less on player wages in 2023 compared to the year before. Barcelona and City had large increases in player wages spending – 158m euros and 68m euros (£134.8m and £58m) respectively.

Liverpool loanee Adam Lewis has been flooded with messages to send Manchester United out of the FA Cup at Newport and says he has been in contact with “good mate” Mason Mount about it.

Left-back Lewis is in his second temporary spell at League Two Newport and will be thrust into the spotlight on Sunday when United make their first trip to Rodney Parade for a fourth round tie.

Ever since Newport eased past Eastleigh in their third-round replay, Lewis says his phone has not stopped pinging with messages from his native Merseyside insisting Liverpool’s bitter rivals are dumped out of the cup.

“I’ve had tons of messages this week saying ‘Get stuck into them’ and make sure you win,” said the 24-year-old, who has had previous loan spells at Livingston, Plymouth and Amiens in France.

“I’m just waiting for one off the boss (Jurgen Klopp) now, he might drop me one hopefully before Sunday.

“I’ve played with (United midfielder) Mason Mount a lot at international level with England, from the under-16s through to the under-19s.

“He’s a good mate of mine and I spoke to him the other day to see if he was playing. I was trying to get some inside information, but he wasn’t giving me any.”

Lewis grew up in Walton close to Liverpool’s home Anfield and chose to join his boyhood heroes over neighbours Everton at the age of six.

He played in the same Croxteth Park Sunday League team and went to the same Rainhill High School as Trent Alexander-Arnold – “I always knew he was going to be a player, being captain of the Under-18s when he was about 15 or 16 says it all” – and made his way through the various youth groups at Anfield.

Lewis is certainty no stranger to Liverpool-United games and the intensity the fixture brings.

He said: “It was always good to beat them because even at youth level that rivalry is always there.

“I remember when Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher were playing for Liverpool and the tackles they were throwing in.

“It just works its way down from the first team – and you feel you want to be like that.

“To play against them professionally when it matters is more important. United are one of the biggest teams in the world, even though I hate to say that, but you’ve got to believe you can win.

“It’s the FA Cup for a reason and there’s always upsets. Look at how far Grimsby got last year.”

Whatever happens at Rodney Parade, Lewis is hoping to make one trip to Wembley this season after Liverpool reached next month’s Carabao Cup final.

“I was part of pre-season and there with the team when we got beat on penalties in the Community Shield by Manchester City (in 2019),” said Lewis.

“I haven’t been to a game for some while now because I’ve been down in Newport. But it would be great to get there and see us win another trophy.”

Erik ten Hag is expecting an upturn in Manchester United’s fortunes in the new year as Casemiro, Lisandro Martinez and Mason Mount close in on a mid-January return.

This has been a bumpy second season in the Old Trafford dugout for the Dutchman, whose side have been eliminated from Europe and seen their Carabao Cup defence ended early.

United’s Premier League title chances are all but over before Christmas and Ten Hag’s side need to build on last weekend’s dogged 0-0 draw at high-flying rivals Liverpool when they head to West Ham.

The absentee-hit Red Devils are dealing with several doubts ahead of the Saturday lunchtime clash, but Ten Hag expects their injury problems to ease over the coming weeks.

“Now we have some doubts,” said the United manager, who welcomes back skipper Bruno Fernandes from suspension but sees Diogo Dalot serve a one-match ban.

“We have some illnesses during the week, so we have to see who is always available for tomorrow. Hopefully they are recovered but we have to see.

“(Casemiro and Martinez) are not available before Christmas, so that will be mid-January we expect them back.

“Mason Mount similar into January. Harry Maguire I expect him early on and Victor Lindelof is not available. He has done a surgery so he will be out for a couple of weeks.

“What happened? He had a problem and so (personal) is that, but he has to do the surgery.”

The impending return of such players will be a shot in the arm for a United side deprived of so many options in recent weeks and months.

As well as the aforementioned, Amad Diallo and Tyrell Malacia have been unable to feature yet this season. Christian Eriksen recently returned to training after five weeks out with a knee issue and Anthony Martial missed the trip to Anfield through illness.

The forward’s absence underlined United’s lack of striking options heading into a transfer window that will surely see Jadon Sancho leave given he has been banished from the first team since September.

United have publicly indicated that it will be a quiet January and Ten Hag believes they have the quality in house to kick on in 2024.

“The current squad I’m happy (with),” he said. “As we get our players back, I’m sure we have a good squad.

“I think a lot of the way it went in the first (part of the) season, the reasons behind (it are) because many players were not available.

“I’m sure when all the players are available on board – it looks like, as I said, Casemiro will be back, Martinez will be back, Mason Mount will be back – we will be much stronger after the winter.”

The mid-term looks positive for United but now comes a chaotic Christmas period kicked off by the trip to David Moyes’ West Ham.

“We have three big games to play in this week – really looking forward (to them),” Ten Hag said, with a home match against Aston Villa and trip to Nottingham Forest following the game in east London.

“It’s always a massive period for any club in the Premier League but definitely now for us.”

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has admitted he is “not happy” with Marcus Rashford’s form but he remains convinced the England forward will get back to his best this season.

Rashford’s disputed red card in Copenhagen on Wednesday night contributed to a dramatic United collapse as they blew a 2-0 lead and conceded two goals in the final 10 minutes to lose 4-3, dropping to the bottom of Group A in the Champions League with two games left.

Gareth Southgate kept faith with Rashford by naming him in his England squad on Thursday, but a player who scored 30 goals for United in all competitions last season has only one from 15 appearances this term.

“I think he’s not happy, we are not happy,” Ten Hag said of Rashford’s performances. “We have an expectation. He has high expectations from himself. In this moment he is not in the best form but I know he will be back.

“I know when the team is playing better he will play better. He will go and score goals. I am confident of that. This season he will improve and score goals. He is totally in the team, he is aware of everything so I think he will be back on track.

“It can happen very quickly and sometimes you only need one game. I’m sure he will get there.”

The defeat in Copenhagen was United’s ninth from 17 games in all competitions so far, and they go into Saturday’s match at home to Luton eighth in the Premier League.

Asked if results had been acceptable this term, Ten Hag said: “It is about the end result and we have to win every game, so we are very disappointed to lose any game but finally it is about the end result.

“It is always about being in a process, thinking about a process and then it’s about managing the process. That’s the only thing I focus on.

“I think we have often proved we can, like at Fulham, like Brentford, that we can overcome big setbacks.”

United’s midweek defeat came at a cost too as Jonny Evans limped off early after pulling up off the ball.

The 35-year-old, who has been a regular starter in recent weeks, has been ruled out of the Luton match and may now also miss next week’s Euro 2024 qualifiers for Northern Ireland in what would be another blow for Michael O’Neill’s injury-hit squad.

“So we don’t have in this moment the full assessment and all the details but tomorrow he is out,” Ten Hag said.

“I can’t say (if he can go away with Northern Ireland) as we don’t have the finished assessment.”

Mason Mount has been another player in the spotlight, with the 24-year-old struggling to make an impression since his £55million summer switch from Chelsea.

Mount made his first start since early October in the 3-0 Carabao Cup defeat to Newcastle on November 1 but was back on the bench against Fulham and Copenhagen, with questions being asked about his role in the side.

However, Ten Hag said there had been no change in his expectations of the player.

“It hasn’t changed at all,” Ten Hag said. “He started the season and then he got injured. It’s the worst moment for a new player to get injured because it stops the integration process. That was definitely a setback for us all and for him now he has to fight to get his place back.”

England manager Gareth Southgate is hoping for a positive update on Bukayo Saka after selecting the Arsenal star despite fears over his fitness.

Having failed to finish the matches against Tottenham and Bournemouth, the 22-year-old again left the field early in Tuesday’s 2-1 Champions League defeat at Lens.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta admitted afterwards that it “didn’t look good” for Saka, yet the forward was still named in Southgate’s 26-man squad two days later.

The England boss is awaiting news on the national team’s back-to-back men’s player of the year and has not given up on him being available for this month’s double-header against Australia and Italy.

“He’s still being assessed,” Southgate said of Saka, who faces a race to be involved for Arsenal against Manchester City on Sunday before attention turns to international matters.

“Obviously, they’ve got a big game this weekend and then there’s another seven days before we play Australia and 10 days before we play Italy as well.

“So, everybody will monitor everything as we go forward.”

England could wrap up their place at Euro 2024 this month, with the Wembley qualifier against Italy following their friendly under the arch against Australia.

Uncapped Levi Colwill and Eddie Nketiah got the nod along for the October fixtures, while Ollie Watkins received his first call-up since March 2022 and Jarrod Bowen returned for the first time since that September.

But there was no place for Mason Mount, James Ward-Prowse or Raheem Sterling, with the latter having not added to his 82 caps since the 2022 World Cup.

Asked if he spoke to Chelsea forward Sterling like he did last month, Southgate said; “No, we spoke before the last squad.

“As I said, we’ve been happy with the wide players and the performances in the last four games, in particular, and the two in March. The team are playing really well, so clearly there’s some stability there.

“We have added Jarrod Bowen in those wide areas – I mean, he scored five in seven games, he’s playing really well.

“With the Australia game as well, there’s an opportunity to learn some different things as well.”

On Watkins, who Southgate saw score a hat-trick for Aston Villa against Brighton at the weekend, he said: “There’s a little bit with Callum Wilson as well, so he’s carrying an injury.

“Not certain he’d be available. Ollie has started the season well. He’s hit a bit of scoring form in the last couple of weeks.

“You have to be careful with that because you can’t just go on recency bias when you’re looking at selection, but he is in good form.

“He’s obviously coming in on a high and he’s been with this before.

“We know his character, we know his personality. He’s a good guy around the around the group.

“Team are playing well, he’s playing for a club that are really well coached and the team are in a good moment.”

Ben Chilwell and Eberechi Eze join Wilson in missing this month’s matches through injury, while Harry Maguire, Jordan Henderson and Kalvin Phillips retain their place despite questions over their spots.

John Stones returned having missed a September camp that ended with a 3-1 win in Scotland, who are vying with England for Elliot Anderson’s international future.

The 20-year-old left the last Scottish camp after two days following his first call-up to the full squad and last week indicated he wanted more time to consider his international future.

“I haven’t (spoken to him),” Southgate said of the Newcastle talent. “I mean those things (Football Association technical director) John McDermott deals with that, really.

“So, I think we’re the same as Steve. We’re respectful that those sorts of decisions are big decisions and we don’t want to pressure anybody.

“We like Elliot, we think he’s a very good player, got high potential.

“He’s obviously at a club that are absolutely flying, so, yeah, we’ll just have to wait and see.

“But we’re very much respectful that if he needs time to think that through we completely understand.”

Manchester United midfielder Mason Mount admits his side need a clear improvement after suffering their worst start to a Premier League season.

Not since the 1989-90 campaign, when Sir Alex Ferguson was reportedly one game away from the sack, have United lost four of their first seven league fixtures.

But Joachim Andersen’s first-half goal for Palace inflicted the same fate on the current crop, which left the Old Trafford faithful booing at the end.

Mount, who made his Premier League return after six weeks out with injury, says United must get better.

“We know we need to win these games and it’s been a difficult start,” the England international told the club’s website.

“As soon as they got the goal, they defended really well, they got bodies behind the ball and made it difficult to create. We had a few chances but it wasn’t enough.

“We know we need to go back and look at the areas that we need to improve on – and we need to improve because we want to win games, we want to win every competition we’re in, we want to go right to the end. So it’s a tough one to take.

“It was a tough start with the injury and a frustrating one but I used that time to look at areas where I could improve and coming back in the team last game, it felt good.

“But you don’t want to lose games and, especially at home with the fans, we want to perform for them and win games for them. And yeah, we need to improve. We need to go away and look at some areas that just weren’t there.

“But there are games coming thick and fast now. Every three days we’re playing in different competitions and this is a new start. The Champions League at home under the lights – it’s an exciting one to play in and hopefully we can perform and win that game now.”

Andersen’s brilliant goal – a sweet first-time finish at the back post from an Eberechi Eze set-piece – proved enough for Palace to earn revenge for their Carabao Cup defeat at Old Trafford earlier in the week.

And he enjoyed his match-winning moment.

“That goal, for me personally, is something I’ll remember,” Andersen told the club’s official website.

“It’s something that I need to improve on. I need to score more goals because I’m capable of scoring goals. I have the desire to score. I think I have a pretty good strike actually. I know I’m capable of scoring goals.

“It was a good cross from Ebs and I just felt that someone would get a touch and I just sensed where the ball would fall, like a good striker would do, and I hit it really well. Amazing goal.”

Mason Mount made his Manchester United debut as Erik ten Hag’s side began their pre-season schedule with a 2-0 win against Leeds in Oslo.

The 24-year-old, who made a £55million move from Chelsea last month, played the first 45 minutes and impressed in flashes during a quiet first period.

Ten Hag’s starting XI was a combination of youth and experience, with Lisandro Martinez, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho joined by young prospects such as Kobbie Mainoo and Omari Forson.

Tributes were paid before kick off to former Scotland, Manchester United and Leeds defender Gordon McQueen, who died aged 70 last month following his battle with dementia.

Mount created a big opening in the 10th minute, passing in behind for Amad Diallo to tee up Hannibal Mejbri but the Tunisian was denied by a smart save from Leeds goalkeeper Kristoffer Klaesson.

Moments later the England midfielder was involved again, winning the ball back before attempting a delicate chip over Klaesson from 25 yards which landed on the roof of the net.

“I am sure he will contribute to the success of Manchester United because he is a quality player,” Ten Hag told MUTV before kick-off.

“In midfield you have to attack but you also have to defend. He will bring dynamic into our game. We need more dynamic in that midfield department.”

Daniel Farke took charge of his first game as manager of Leeds, who are preparing for life back in the Championship following relegation last season.

The breakthrough came on 67 minutes as 18-year-old Norwegian Isak Hansen-Aaroen played in Frenchman Noam Emeran who slid it past Dani van den Heuvel.

Emeran then turned provider for Joe Hugill to seal the win 10 minutes from time.

The Red Devils’ pre-season continues with a clash against Lyon in Edinburgh next Wednesday before they head to the USA for matches against Arsenal, Wrexham, Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund.

New Manchester United signing Mason Mount says he left Chelsea with it having become clear “several months ago” that he was not in the club’s plans for the future.

The England midfielder completed his move from the Blues to United this week on a deal to 2028, with the option of a further year, for what is understood to be an initial fee of £55million.

Mount told MUTV: “Several months ago I think it became clear that I wasn’t in Chelsea’s plans moving forward and once I knew that United were involved, my decision was made.

“It’s a massive club, huge, iconic players have played here, and I wanted to be a part of that from the beginning. Getting in early, ready for pre-season to start, was a main objective of mine as well.”

The 24-year-old – who had an 18-year association with Chelsea, played 195 times for them, scoring 33 goals, and helped them win the Champions League in 2021 – added: “I’ve always seen myself as a midfielder, a number eight that can obviously get forward and attack, try to score goals, create goals, but also be able to do the other side as well and defend and help the team when we’re under pressure. That’s a massive focus of mine.

“I know what I can bring to this team and now it’s about going and doing it on the pitch.”

Mount, set to wear the number seven shirt in Erik ten Hag’s United team, cut short a family holiday in Disneyland to finalise the deal.

He said: “We had a little trip to Disneyland, for the niece mainly – I enjoyed it as well, of course!

“We came back a bit early just to make our way up here, drive up here, see what the trip’s like and everything. But it was well worth it, and it’s great to be up here now.

“It’s been an amazing couple of days, coming here, seeing everyone, meeting everyone at the training ground, such a warm welcome. I feel very much at home already.”

Mason Mount has confirmed that he will be leaving Chelsea after 18 years at the club.

The 24-year-old came through the ranks at Stamford Bridge and since making his first-team debut in 2019 has gone on to score 27 goals and provide 22 assists in 129 Premier League appearances.

The PA news agency understands that Manchester United have agreed a deal to sign the midfielder for an initial £55million.

 

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A post shared by Mason Mount (@masonmount)


Mount, who won the Champions League with Chelsea in 2021 and has earned 36 caps for England, posted a farewell message to Blues fans on Instagram.

 

He said on Instagram: “Hi Chelsea fans, given the speculation over the last six months this may not come as a surprise to you, but it doesn’t make it any easier to tell you that I’ve made the decision to leave Chelsea.

“I feel you deserve more than just a written statement, so I wanted to tell you directly how grateful I’ve been for all of your support over the last 18 years.

“I know some of you won’t be happy with my decision, but it’s what’s right for me at this moment in my career.

“I joined Chelsea when I was six years old and we’ve been through a lot together.

“Winning the Youth Cup, my Player of the Year awards, the Super Cup, the Club World Cup and of course that unforgettable night when we won the Champions League.

“I want to say thank you to the academy, Jim and Neil for being so influential to me from such a young age.

“The managers I’ve worked under, Frank (Lampard), Thomas (Tuchel) and Graham (Potter), the backroom staff, the unsung heroes of Cobham, all of my teammates over the years that have become my brothers.

“My family for the continuous love and support and most importantly you guys for sticking with me throughout. Wish you all the best.”

What the papers say

Manchester United are “launching a £55 million swoop” for Chelsea forward Mason Mount, according to the Daily Mail. The 24-year-old is also being sought by Liverpool and Arsenal as he enters the final year of his contract at Stamford Bridge with his future under increasing uncertainty.

The Independent reports Aston Villa are leading the race to sign Leicester winger Harvey Barnes, 25, in the summer. The Foxes could also lose attacker James Maddison, 26, after a tough season for the struggling club.

West Ham are looking increasingly like they will keep David Moyes on as manager despite constant chatter all season that he would be moved on, The Guardian says. The 60-year-old may now be given another season after reaching the Europa Conference League final and winning their fight against relegation.

And Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is considering allowing attacker Emile Smith Rowe, 22, to leave in order to make room for Maddison. According to the Daily Mirror, despite Smith Rowe being one of the most popular players among fans, he could be shown the door after failing to start a single game in all competitions this season.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Antonio Sanabria: The Mail reports via La Repubblica the Gunners are interested in adding the 26-year-old Torino and Paraguay forward in a deal worth £21.6m.

Victor Osimhen: The Mirror reports via Il Mattino that Manchester United have been told they must pay £140m if they want to sign the 24-year-old Napoli striker.

A woman bombarded Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount with messages in a four-month stalking campaign after he broke off their relationship, a court has heard.

TikToker Orla Melissa Sloan, 21, pleaded guilty to stalking the 24-year-old and his former team-mate Billy Gilmour, 21, as well as harassing fellow Blues star Ben Chilwell, 26, at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

The court heard she slept with Mount, who had surgery on a pelvic injury last month, after they met at a party at his England team-mate Chilwell’s home in November 2020.

Prosecutor Jason Seetal said they stayed in contact for around six months before Mount “decided that the relationship was not going to progress”.

“Upon informing Miss Sloan of this, he has been subjected to a bombardment of messages,” he said.

“He began asking her to stop messaging him before blocking the number.

“He then began to receive messages from new numbers and each time he would block those numbers there would be messages from a different number.”

Mr Seetal said a total of 21 different numbers were used to contact Mount with some messages including collages of photos of the player with other women.

The court heard that in one message from an Instagram account using the name ‘Devil Baby’, she said: “I can morph at any time so let me apologise and set things right.”

Another showed an Apple account buying a new number for £12.99 with the words: “I’m not buying food anymore so I can get more numbers. I will be faster than you.”

Mr Seetal said Mount was “concerned she had an obsession or fixation with him and he didn’t know what she was capable of”.

In a statement, Mount said: “Miss Sloan knows roughly where I live and where I train.

“I’m worried as if she is unable to contact me she might turn up at my training centre.”

The court heard other messages were aimed at professional footballers, friends and family members, including left-back Chilwell.

He told how he found Sloan’s behaviour “erratic”, while Scotland midfielder Gilmour said her messages had a “huge impact” on his life, after he joined Brighton from Chelsea last September.

“I have not been able to sleep and have had to take sleeping tablets,” he said.

“It’s had a negative effect on my performance and professional life.”

“Being in a new town where I don’t have my friends or family, it’s really upsetting.”

The court heard Gilmour had initially exchanged messages with Sloan before telling her he did not want their contact to continue and did not have a relationship with her.

But she claimed to have fallen pregnant in allegations described in court as “completely fictitious”.

“I don’t know who I can trust anymore,” Gilmour said.

“Some of the information would only have been known by people close to me.”

Sloan, from Exeter, pleaded guilty to causing “serious alarm or distress” by stalking Gilmour between September 10 and October 28 last year.

She also admitted stalking Mount between June 19 and October 28 last year, as well as causing harassment to Chilwell between October 20 and October 29, 2022.

District Judge Neeta Minhas adjourned sentencing to June 20 for reports to be prepared, telling her the most serious offence, against Gilmour, crossed the custody threshold.

She was granted unconditional bail.

Chelsea's Mason Mount is "feeling good" after undergoing surgery on a pelvic issue that threatens to sideline him for the remainder of the season.

Mount has endured a frustrating few months, with six of his last seven appearances coming from the bench – including all three of his outings since Frank Lampard returned to Stamford Bridge as caretaker manager.

The England international has made 20 Premier League starts this term but only managed three goals and two assists during a season of upheaval for Chelsea.

On Tuesday, Lampard said Mount could face four weeks on the sidelines after being troubled by a pelvic issue, which required him to undergo minor surgery. 

Mount's Chelsea contract expires in 2024, and with fresh terms yet to be agreed, the 24-year-old has been touted as a potential transfer target for Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United.

With Chelsea concluding their Premier League campaign against Newcastle United on May 28, Mount's injury setback has led to suggestions he may have played his final game for the club.

The midfielder, however, hopes to return in the coming weeks, writing on Instagram: "Had a minor procedure yesterday to sort out a discomfort I had for a while. 

"Everything went well and I'm feeling good. Time to rest but can't wait to get back to training in the coming weeks! 

"Thanks for all your messages of support and a massive thank you to the medical team, doctors and nurses for looking after me."

What the papers say

Liverpool are hoping to sign Manchester City “outcast” Kalvin Phillips in a £35m deal this summer, the Daily Star says. Jurgen Klopp targeted the 27-year-old midfielder after being priced out of a move for Jude Bellingham.

Elsewhere, the Daily Telegraph reports Romelu Lukaku will be asked whether or not he wants to try to revive his Chelsea career under proposed permanent head coach Mauricio Pochettino. The 29-year-old striker has spent the season on loan at Inter Milan after making it clear that he no longer wanted to play for former head coach Thomas Tuchel.

In more Blues news, the Evening Standard says Frank Lampard will make himself available as a sounding board for Pochettino to help ensure a smooth transition. The former Tottenham manager is due to take over at the end of the season.

And according to The Sun, Eddie Howe will have up to £150million to bolster his Newcastle squad this summer. The Magpies are laying plans to prepare their squad for a Champions League campaign next season and are willing to spend between £100-150million.

Social media round-up

Top four = big spending for Howe this summer. And he has targets ? ? https://t.co/vjUB6mcTgt

— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) April 26, 2023

Lampard on Mount: “New deal for him? Not my opinion. It will be the opinion of the club and the opinion of Mason, so that's between them”. ?⭐️ #CFC

“There’s no doubt, he’s top-class player. Trust me, it’s not easy to play with top players around and he’s managed to do that”. pic.twitter.com/oczA2DJdny

— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) April 25, 2023

Players to watch

Lionel Messi: 90min says Barcelona are “leaving no stone unturned” in their bid to re-sign the 35-year-old Argentina forward from Paris St-Germain but a deal will not be straightforward.

Andre Onana: Italian outlet Gazzetta dello Sport reports Chelsea are interested in signing the 27-year-old Cameroon goalkeeper from Inter Milan and could use Kepa Arrizabalaga, 28, as part of the deal.

Frank Lampard urged Chelsea's players to show "personal pride" and finish the season strongly as the club target Mauricio Pochettino to become their new head coach.

Injuries are set to keep Reece James and Mason Mount out of action for the rest of the season, Lampard revealed on Tuesday.

The loss of the England internationals comes as the latest blow in a wretched season for the club that has seen two head coaches, Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter, lose their jobs.

Interim boss Lampard could also be replaced before the campaign ends, having overseen four defeats in four games since the club legend was asked to lead the team.

With Pochettino a firm contender to take charge, there may be a new man at the helm in the coming days or weeks.

What seems nigh-on certain is that Lampard will lead Chelsea in Wednesday's home game against fellow west London outfit Brentford.

The Bees are remarkably five points ahead of the wealthy Blues ahead of that fixture, and Lampard wants to see battling spirit from his 11th-placed side.

He broke the dismal news of the fresh injury setbacks at the beginning of Tuesday's pre-match press conference, saying: "Reece James is unavailable probably for the season, Mason Mount the same – potential for the last game of the season but probably not – so that's obviously disappointing for us.

"They're big players. Reece has a hamstring injury and Mason has been carrying this pelvic injury for quite a while. He's been trying typically, and medical staff have been trying, but we've got to the stage now where he will have minor surgery and then a four-week recovery."

Asked about the potential arrival of former Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain boss Pochettino, Lampard said: "I'm not going to get involved in any future manager talk, because it's all speculation."

 

Lampard is unsure whether his short-term position will soon be affected by the club's efforts to appoint a coach, or whether he will continue to lead the team until the end of the season.

"I wouldn't expect anything in football, but I think it's very clear we've come into this club when it's in big difficulties," Lampard said.

He vowed he and his coaching staff would continue to try to draw the best from the expensively assembled Chelsea squad and called on the players to raise their games.

Two Champions League losses to Real Madrid and Premier League defeats to Wolves and Brighton have made it a disappointing start for Lampard.

"I have a big link to this club and pride, and so should the players," Lampard said, when asked whether Chelsea's season was effectively over.

"If you want to take it down your route, it's over, but on my route it's absolutely not over.

"I don't have a mentality that there's nothing to play for. I was fortunate to be a part of teams that were challenging normally for stuff towards the end of the season, but that's not a given. It's important that if you have a long career you won't compete absolutely every season, it's not a given.

"It comes down to your personal pride, responsibility, wearing the shirt. We've got seven games, four against the top four, three away from home.

"The run-in's really tough, there's no doubt about that. There's always something on those games. I understand that and the players have to understand that."

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