So it’s that time of the season again, the international break, a week most football fans dread as a combination of no Premier League football and injury worries creep in but alas, we cannot change the fixture list and will have to watch and hope our key players return unscathed. This is also the last international break until March so we can enjoy three, yes three months of uninterrupted domestic football action.
A total of 4 Liverpool players have been called up by former manager Roy Hodgson for the upcoming friendlies against Chile and Germany. The first is the most obvious call up, Liverpool and England Captain Steven Gerrard was probably the first name on Roy Hodgson’s list of players to make his squad, with a serious injury the only way he wouldn’t be selected although a slight hip injury picked up in the 4-0 win over Fulham at the weekend will probably see him sit out of the game against Chile. Glen Johnson, Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge make up the Liverpool quartet, however like Gerrard, Sturridge is likely to miss the Chile game after taking a knock to the foot in the same game at the weekend. Both should be back to face Germany, which should be a great experience for all 4 players playing against a top side who are many people’s favourites to go far at the World Cup in Brazil next year. Manchester United’s Michael Carrick is expected to miss both friendlies which could present Jordan Henderson with a fantastic opportunity which, based on this seasons form, is fully deserved. Glen Johnson has been restored in the side after missing the qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland through injury.
Only one call up by Chris Coleman will see Liverpool Midfielder Joe Allen return to the Wales squad after missing the last squad like Johnson, through injury. Wales just face one friendly against Finland in Cardiff and it will be a great chance for Allen to gain some important match fitness after struggling to break back into Liverpool’s midfield on his return from injury. Liverpool youngster Harry Wilson has a place on the standby list, after becoming Wales’ youngest ever player in a World Cup Qualifier against Belgium last month.
Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has again been called up to the Belgium squad for their friendlies against Columbia and Japan. This Belgium team is one that excites many with some fantastic young players who have recently come through the ranks for example Lukaku, Benteke, Hazard and Witsel, as well as more senior players like Kompany and Vertonghen makes them a very interesting side heading into the World Cup. Belgium manager Marc Wilmots tweeted that Mignolet would start both games against Columbia and Japan which is great for him in a World Cup year.
Denmark Captain and Liverpool Vice-Captain Daniel Agger will lead his team out at the MCH Arena is Herning on Friday night. Dagger scored twice from the spot on his last outing for his country and has now scored 3 penalties in his last 3 for Denmark. Good news for Liverpool if we ever get into another famous penalty shootout. Denmark narrowly missed out on a play-off space during WC qualification, therefore we will not be seeing Agger lead the Denmark squad out in Brazil next year
Martin Skrtel’s fine form for Liverpool has earned him a call-up to the Slovakia squad to face Poland in Wroclaw on Friday evening. Like Agger and Denmark, Skrtel and Slovakia will not be heading to Brazil next year, although Slovakia were not as close to qualification as Denmark were.
Lucas Leiva has received yet another call up from Brazil boss Scolari. Unlike his European counterparts, Lucas will be racking up the air miles as Brazil face Honduras in Florida on Sunday before facing England’s opponents Chile in Toronto the following Wednesday. Lucas’ call ups will provide a fantastic base for him to build on and give him vital experience which could lead to a place in Brazil’s squad at a home World Cup, which after what he’s been through with injuries would be a fitting reward. There is no place in the squad for Lucas’ Liverpool team mate Phillipe Coutinho, who has only just returned from 6 weeks on the sidelines.
Kolo Toure returns to the Ivory Coast squad for their World Cup African qualifying 3rd round, 2rd leg tie against Senegal. Ivory Coast won the first leg 3-1 at home with goals from Drogba’s penalty, a Sane own goal with Salomon Kalou getting the third. An aggregate win will see the Ivory Coast qualify for Brazil 2014.
Mamadou Sakho has earned his 2nd call up to the French team after making his move from PSG to Liverpool. Like Toure, Sakho and France are in competitive action this week facing Ukraine in the European World Cup Qualifying play-offs. The French team travel to Kiev for the first leg on Friday before returning Paris on Tuesday. Sakho sat out France’s last World Cup Qualifier against Finland on the bench but will be hoping to play some part in helping his team reach the finals.
Uruguay allowed Liverpool Striker Luis Suarez to stay behind to help his side destroy Fulham at the weekend but now it’s his turn to help the first ever winners qualify for another World Cup. Suarez met up with the rest of the squad in Turkey on Saturday night before heading to Jordan for the first leg on Wednesday. The second leg will follow the Wednesday after. I can’t see past Uruguay for this one, they should have far too much quality for Jordan and Luis Suarez should be playing on the biggest stage of them all, to prove to everyone what he can do up against the likes of Messi and Ronaldo (If Portugal can overcome Sweden in their play-off).
Raheem Sterling and on-loan left back Jack Robinson have both received call ups for England’s U21s for their European Championship Qualifiers against Finland and San Marino, whilst summer signing Tiago Ilori will join up with the Portuguese U21s for their qualifier against Israel. Almeria loanee Suso has received a reward for his fine form so far this season with another call up to Spain’s U21 squad to face Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania.
We wish luck to all the Liverpool players who will appear for their countries over the next week especially Toure, Sakho and Suarez and hope they manage to help their respected countries qualify for the World Cup in Brazil. As Liverpool fans we also hope that all of our players come back fully fit having learnt from their experiences on international duty and return full focused on helping Liverpool grab that all important Champions League spot.
Squad information from National Football Accociations (where available) and Soccer Way
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