Gylfi Sigurdsson, Hugo Lloris and Vlad Chiriches will all be hoping their respective nations can win through their two-legged World Cup qualifying play-offs – with a coveted spot at the tournament finals in Brazil next summer now tantalisingly within reach.
Gylfi has been a key figure in the Iceland squad which performed exceptionally well on their way to securing a place in the play-offs by finishing second in Group E. He’ll be determined to put in a similarly committed display in his country’s clashes against Croatia – at home on Friday and then away next Tuesday – in the knowledge that victory over the two legs will see Iceland qualify for the World Cup finals for the first time ever.
As we all know, France have ample experience of playing in and winning World Cups – and our goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, the French side’s captain, is keen for his nation to book their place in next summer’s tournament by seeing off a stubborn Ukraine side which drew twice with England in the qualifying group stage. France visit Ukraine in the play-offs on Friday, before hosting the return leg on Tuesday.
Central defender Vlad Chiriches is also eyeing a spot at next summer’s finals, as his Romania side visits Greece in Friday’s play-off first leg, with the return match set for next Tuesday. Vlad, Romania’s captain, suffered a setback after being forced off with a broken nose in last weekend’s Premier League encounter with Newcastle United.
The action for our lads kicks-off this evening (Wednesday) with Milos Veljkovic in the Serbia Under-19s squad for the first of three Euro qualifiers in the space of six days. They face Kazakhstan tonight, Finland on Friday and Austria on Monday.
On Thursday evening goalkeeper Jordan Archer – on the bench for our Europa League fixture against FC Sheriff last week – is in the Scotland Under-21s squad for their Euro qualifier against Georgia.
On the international friendly scene, England and Belgium are safe in the knowledge that qualification for next summer’s World Cup has already been secured.
However, with Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson set to mull over his options ahead of picking his squad for the 2014 showpiece, Andros Townsend, Kyle Walker and Jermain Defoe will all be hoping to make an impression over the coming matches as England host Chile on Friday and Germany on Tuesday at Wembley.
Likewise, Nacer Chadli, Mousa Dembele and Jan Vertonghen are in Belgium’s squad for their home friendlies against Colombia on Thursday and against Japan on Tuesday.
Christian Eriksen should feature for Denmark in their friendly against Norway on Friday, while Erik Lamela will be hoping to make an impact for Argentina, as they face friendlies against Ecuador on Friday and Bosnia on Tuesday. Paulinho, meanwhile, is involved in Brazil’s friendlies against Honduras on Saturday and Chile on Tuesday.
In addition, three members of our Under-18s squad – Will Miller, Emmanuel Sonupe and Harry Winks – have been called up to take part in a training camp with England Under-18s at St George’s Park, which begins on Sunday.
We would like to wish all our lads involved in international matches this week the very best of luck.