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International round-up

Kyle Naughton made his full debut and Danny Rose helped set-up a goal as England U21s came from behind to beat Macedonia 2-1 on Friday.

Kyle Naughton made his full debut and Danny Rose helped set-up a goal as England U21s came from behind to beat Macedonia 2-1 on Friday.

It was England's first match in European Under-21 Championship qualifying for Denmark 2011 and they were rocked by a 30-yard screamer from Agim Ibraimi as Macedonia took the lead in the 34th minute.

England levelled in the 68th minute when Danny leapt high to win a key header from Junior Stanislas' corner, Jack Rodwell flicked on and Freddie Sears finished from close range.

Danny was substituted in the 72nd minute and Stuart Peace's team took maximum points 10 minutes later when Lee Cattermole buried from the penalty spot after Jack Wilshere was fouled.

Dorian Dervite is in Under-21 qualfying action later as France open their campaign in Slovenia in Group Eight.


Nine of our players are in key World Cup 2010 qualifying matches on Saturday.

New signing Niko Kranjcar joins Vedran Corluka in a Croatian squad that will no doubt miss the influence of injured Luka Modric.

Wednesday's big match at Wembley between England and Croatia is looming large but the Croatians know they have to concentrate first on beating Belarus on Saturday night as they fight for second spot in Group Six.

They are battling it out with Ukraine for runners-up spot behind England and are currently three points ahead having played a game more.

However, Ukraine face basement team Andorra on Saturday - anything less than a Croatian win against Belarus in Zagreb will hit their 2010 aspirations hard.

Luka said: "We must win the game against Belarus, that's very important. For now, we can't think about England. That is such an important game for us and if we win that game - and I'm confident we will - then it's much easier to come to Wembley."

It's a similar situation for Alan Hutton and Scotland.

Realistically, they need to beat Macedonia on Saturday and runaway group winners Holland, who have already qualified, on Wednesday to stand any chance of being one of the eight best runners-up from the nine European qualifying groups that go into the play-offs.

Roman Pavlyuchenko's Russia remain hot on the heels of Group Four leaders Germany and will expect to beat Leichtenstein on Saturday before travelling to Wales on Wednesday.

Robbie Keane will lead the Republic of Ireland in their qualifier in Cyprus as they continue to edge out Bulgaria in Group Eight. The Republic, Bulgaria and leaders Italy remain unbeaten.


It's a big week for Wilson Palacios' Honduras and Giovani's Mexico in the final stages of North, Central America and Caribben (CONCACAF) qualifying.

Six teams are fighting it out in the final qualifying group and after six of the 10 matches, Costa Rica are top on 12 points from USA and Honduras on 10 and Mexico in fourth on nine.

However, the top three only qualify directly for South Africa next summer, with the team in fourth facing the sixth-place team from South American qualifying in a play-off.

The weekend's matches could make or break Gio and Mexico as on Saturday, they face Costa Rica while Honduras take on struggling Trinidad & Tobago.

The Spurs pair then meet in a cracker in Mexico City on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Sebastien Bassong are in the Cameroon squad as the final stages of African qualifying reaches a peak.

Cameroon are currently bottom of Group A after two of five matches but face leaders Gabon on Saturday and then again on Monday - it could all change.

It will have to though - only the five group winners progress to South Africa.


Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon and Peter Crouch are all in the England squad for the friendly against Slovenia on Saturday, kick-off is 5.30pm at Wembley.