Arsenal record buy Nicolas Pepe pulls out of Ivory Coast camp with injury

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Nicolas Pepe.

Arsenal forward Nicolas Pepe has left the Ivory Coast training camp after reporting an injury, according to the nation’s football federation.

The Gunners’ club-record signing played the full 90 minutes of the 2-2 Premier League draw against Tottenham on September 1 before heading off on international duty.

In a squad update on the Ivorian football Federation ahead of the friendly matches against Benin and Tunisia, the governing body said: “Nicolas Pepe, injured with his club, came in to declare it late on Wednesday afternoon.

“As a reinforcement, the coach appealed to Bagayoko Mamadou.”

Pepe is reported to have now returned to Arsenal’s London Colney base, where he will continue to work on his fitness ahead of the Premier League match at Watford on September 15.

The forward, 24, did not get a full pre-season behind him after playing at the Africa Cup of Nations before joining the Gunners in a £72 million deal from Lille on August 1.

It has been suggested an agreement had been reached between the Ivorian football Federation and Arsenal that Pepe would join up with the Elephants squad in Deauville, but was scheduled to resume his fitness work back at the club rather than play in the friendly matches.

Arsenal have been contacted for comment by the PA news agency.

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Man City defender Aymeric Laporte undergoes knee surgery

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Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte has undergone successful surgery on the knee he injured at the weekend.

The 25-year-old centre-back sustained the injury during Saturday’s 4-0 win over Brighton at the Etihad Stadium.

A statement by the Premier League champions on Wednesday said they are still to learn how long he will be out for.

“Aymeric Laporte has undergone surgery on his knee after damaging his cartilage and lateral meniscus during Saturday’s win over Brighton,” said the statement.

“The surgery, carried out by Dr Ramon Cugat in Barcelona, was successful and a more detailed prognosis will be provided in due course.

“Everyone at City wishes Aymeric a full and speedy recovery.”

Laporte injured his knee when fouling Brighton’s Adam Webster. He stayed on the ground and was in clear discomfort before being carried off the pitch on a stretcher.

City boss Pep Guardiola had described the Frenchman as the world’s best left-sided centre-back ahead of the game and his absence will be a blow to the club’s hopes of retaining their Premier League title.

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Joe Rodon backs Daniel James to remain grounded despite strong start at Man United

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Daniel James will not get carried away after making a sensational start to his Manchester United career, according to former Swansea team-mate Joe Rodon.

James has been the shining light during United’s stuttering early-season performances, scoring three goals in four games since completing a £15million transfer from Swansea this summer.

But the young Wales winger was criticised by many United supporters after his goal celebration during the 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace.

After levelling with a brilliant last-minute curler into the top corner, James celebrated by posing with his arms crossed in front of the Stretford End.

Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford cut short the celebrations by reminding James there was still time for a winner, and it was Palace who won the three points with virtually the last kick of the game.

“DJ hasn’t got a bad bone in his body,” said Rodon, who is set to line up alongside James for Wales’ crunch Euro 2020 home qualifier with Azerbaijan on Friday.

“I’ve grown up with Dan in the academy (at Swansea) and he’s a brilliant kid.

“He’s hit the ground running at United and hopefully he can continue to do it.

“It’s a massive club and for him to go there and do that is a credit to him and all of the development over the years.

“Dan’s a very talented and quick player with and without the ball, so hopefully he can be a big player for us.”

Rodon looks likely to partner Chris Mepham in central defence against Azerbaijan in Cardiff and win his first Wales cap.

The 21-year-old has been in outstanding form this season as unbeaten Swansea have set the early pace in the Sky Bet Championship.

“It’s been a great start, but obviously it’s a long season and it’s only going to get tougher for us,” Rodon said.

“But I’ve been lucky enough to hit the ground running, and the team collectively.

“We’re keeping clean sheets and hopefully we can improve game by game.

“Playing every week gives you the best chance of getting called up for your country, so that’s what I want to keep doing.”

Rodon’s season, however, has not all been plain sailing.

He removed himself from social media after receiving abuse following last month’s 3-2 home victory over Preston.

“There was a big palaver about it, but I don’t really use Twitter and I just wanted to get off it,” he said.

“You know you’re going to get abuse and you’ve got to take it on the chin.

“That’s football, it’s part of the job.

“If you can’t deal with criticism it’s pointless being a footballer, because you’re going to get it.”

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