QPR, Reading, Huddersfield Town, Leicester, Burnley, Blackburn Rovers, Birmingham, Millwall, Blackpool, Charlton, Watford and Derby were among the Football League sides who had players on duty during the internationals.
Stephen Pickering reviews the Football League contingent on international duty.
The standard of the football league now means that the international break and call ups don’t only effect the top division. 26 players contracted to football league sides were used in the world cup qualifiers over the past few days with Northern Ireland donning the most with a total of 11 playing between the two games.
It wasn’t just players from the neighbouring countries sporting football league players in their squads and starting 11s.
Croatia FIFA ranked 10th best in the world had QPR’s loan star Niko Kranjcar to thank for their only goal over the international break. Kasper Gorkks played every minute for Latvia and Kasper Schmeichel made his first competitive start for Denmark, keeping a clean sheet and watching his country-men win the game 6-0.
Chris Gunter – Played 2 full matches in an impressive week for Wales beating Macedonia 1-0, keeping a clean sheet and an impressive draw with Belgium 1-1.
Hal Robson Kanu – Played the majority of the two games, coming off as a late sub against Belgium. The impressive winger was frustrated in both games not to have a bigger impact.
Kasper Gorkks – Played 2 full matches for Latvia which is expected as he is a key player for them. He will probably be disappointed with being in a defence that conceded 4 goals in 2 games, and only picking up 1 point out of a possible 6.
Chris Baird – Reading’s latest edition had to sit out the first game, as Nothern Ireland rotated the squad largely between the two games. He will be deflated with their finish to the World Cup qualifiers but played the full 90 minutes during a 1-1 draw with Isreal.
Oliver Norwood – The midfielder played the full 90 for Northern Ireland in their disappointing 2-0 loss against Azerbaijan and was booked in the process. He will want to forget about that afternoon.
Martin Paterson – The former Burnley man played all 180 minutes over the international break for Northern Ireland but struggled to make a proper impact on the games.
Jazz Richards – The Swansea youngster on loan at Huddersfield added to his Wales caps by playing the full 90 against Belgium. He will not have a harder test this season, and came out unscathed.
Andy King – The Leicester central midfielder played all 180 minutes for Wales performing admirably. He has really cemented his place in national set-up and looks good for a long international career.
Kasper Schmeichel – The Leicester City goalkeeper got a chance ahead of Real Betis number 1 Stephan Andersen in the game against Malta and didn’t have too much to do but performed well when called upon and got the clean sheet which will do no harm to his international career.
Sam Vokes – The inform striker managed to get the whole of 3 minutes on the pitch for Wales. I think he deserved longer given the form he is in.
Daniel Lafferty – Played the majority of the game against Isreal can be reasonably happy with his performance and will have done himself no harm.
Niko Kranjcar – It’s reasonable to say he will be disappointed with the overall team performance of Croatia. It has resulted in Croatia manager and former Derby County legend Igor Stimac offering his resignation. Kranjcar scored the only goal for the country over the weekend and can take solace in that fact.
Richard Dunne – Experienced ROI favourite had to watch the first game against Germany, which would have been a good test for him on the big stage. He played the full 90 against Kazakhstan in a 3-1 win, but he would have no doubt been gutted to not to have kept a clean sheet which Seamus Coleman’s shocking clearance ruined.
Grant Hanley – Played all 90 minutes in Scotland’s win over Croatia – can be deeply proud of his performance keeping out one of the best strikers in Europe, in FC Bayern’s top goal scorer Mario Madzukic.
Corry Evans – He played 24 minutes of the game against Isreal for Nothern Ireland before coming off injured. I’m sure Blackburn fans will be keeping a close eye on that one.
Shane Ferguson – Played a full game, a disappointing game against Azerbaijan and came on as a late sub in the game against isreal. He would have hoped for better going into the international break, that’s for sure.
Chris Burke – He got just over a minute of football, will earn another cap but blink and you would have missed him.
Craig Cathcart – The Blackpool defender couldn’t stop Azerbaijan putting two past their goalkeeper in what was a disappointing evening for him.
David Forde – Germany away is a daunting task for any player, in any position never mind a goalkeeper. The experienced man tried his best, but was always up against it. Unlucky not to keep a clean sheet against Kazakhstan, he could do nothing about the goal.
Wayne Hennessey – Yeovil’s loan goalkeeper started and completed both matches for Wales and will be proud of his performances. He looks stronger with each game that goes on, hopefully he is past his injury phase.
Simon Church – Bagged his first goal for Wales and will no doubt be elated by that. The former Reading man linked up well with Ramsey, and Bellamy. He looked good – played the majority of both games, good week for him.
Jamie Ward – The explosive attacking player struggled to make an impact and was left frustrated against Azerbaijan, worked hard but nothing went for him. He was part of the rotation for the second game, but came on mid-way through the second half and caused problems.
Ikechi Anya – Worked tirelessly to ensure a positive performance and result against a good Croatia side. He was up against one of the best centre attacking midfielders in the world and held his own.
Andy Reid – Recalled back to the squad after 5 years because of his fine form in the league. He wasn’t involved at all in the first game, not even making the bench but played the majority of the second game, winning the penalty that brought it back to 1-1.
James McArthur – He would have hoped for more playing time in the game against Croatia. The Wigan man came on with 8 minutes to go, and saw out the win.
League One and Two
Lee Hodson – MK Dons – Played the majority of the game time for Northern Ireland and will be happy to get as much playing time as he did. Disappointing results for the side, but will be happy to add to his other international caps at such a young age.
Will Grigg – Brentford – The lower-league hitman managed to get himself onto the international stage once again, only for 6 minutes but he will take all the minutes/caps he can get I would imagine.
Kevin Doyle – Wolves – He has been out of sorts for so long now, he must have been surprised himself to get re-called back into the side. He has played the full 2 games for the Republic of Ireland and will delighted with that, even if he hasn’t scored.
Rory McArdle – Bradford – Having performed very well this season at club level he will be happy to add to his sporadic international career which has seen 5 caps in 3 years. Played the full 90 minutes against Isreal but sat out the first game.
James Wilson – Cheltenham Town – Currently lower mid-table in league two, and exiled from league one side Bristol City. He doesn’t on paper scream International quality. Nonetheless he came on for a whole 3 minutes against Belgium, and marked his first international cap in the process.
Just to re-iterate how great it is to see so many contracted football league players make the international ranks, and if you were a player in the Scotland squad then it was certainly a week to cherish and remember.
image: © lefty1007