There will be international football over the next few days, as teams all over the world get ready to finalise their journeys in the World Cup Qualifiers. Manchester United will have several players in action over the coming days, and here at Stretford End we will take a look at which United players will represent their respective countries over the coming days.
UEFA World Cup Qualifiers
England lead the way when it comes to quantity. Gareth Southgate named four Manchester United players for the upcoming matches against Slovenia and Lithuania: Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford. Out of those four, however, only Rashford and Jones have decent odds of playing big roles.
England were not the only team that will feature Manchester United players in Europe, though. Belgium have called up Romelu Lukaku and Marouane Fellaini. The midfielder has been one of the best players for Manchester United over the past few weeks, while Lukaku keeps scoring goals at will and has emerged as a viable Golden Boot contender early on. Belgium already clinched a berth in the Russia World Cup next year.
Spain called up David De Gea and Matteo Darmian was chosen for the Italian squad. Both Spain and Italy are on the verge of clinching World Cup spots, although Italy are likely to settle for a playoff berth since La Roja are likely to top Group G. Both teams would clinch playoff berts with a win in their upcoming matches against FYR Macedonia and Albania, respectively.
Daley Blind received a call-up as well, as the versatile defender will likely play a key role for the Netherlands. The Dutch side needs a miracle to make it to Russian soil, though. They sit third in Group A with 13 points, three behind second-placed Sweden and four behind France.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan will represent Armenia, Nemanja Matic will be on the fold for Serbia, and Victor Lindelöf will play for Sweden, too. Serbia currently lead Group D with 18 points, and a win in their next match against Austria (away) will give them the World Cup berth. Sweden are currently in playoff zone in Group A, and Armenia have already been eliminated.
CAF World Cup Qualifiers
Eric Bailly is the lone Manchester United player that will feature in the CAF World Cup Qualifiers. The Ivory Coast defender projects as a starter for The Elephants’ game against Mali (October 6). They top Group C with seven points, but have Morocco (six points) and Gabon (five) behind. A win in this upcoming match is imperative if they want to play in Russia next year.
CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifiers
Last but not least, we have the CONMEBOL Qualifiers. With seven teams vying for 3 1/2 spots and only two games left on the schedule, things in South America are as tight as they can get. And two United players will play pivotal roles for their respective countries.
First, there is Sergio Romero. The goalkeeper is likely to start for an Argentina side that needs a miracle. They sit in fifth position and have upcoming games against Peru (home) and Ecuador (away). They need to win at least one of those games to have a chance to make it to Russia. Otherwise things will get complicated for Lionel Messi and company.
Antonio Valencia is reportedly doubtful for Ecuador’s games against Chile and Argentina, although the former winger will travel to the team’s facilities either way and will likely be a game-time decision. Ecuador sit eighth with 20 points, and need two wins – and several results to go their way – to even have a chance to reach the World Cup Playoffs.
A few players who probably deserved call-ups won’t be joining their respective national teams, though. Anthony Martial did not make France’s squad even though the attacker has been on torrid form of late. Meanwhile, in Spain both Juan Mata and Ander Herrera did not make the squad. And Ashley Young did not make the cut in England despite proving he is fit and available once again.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo did not receive call-ups either, but because both players continue to rehab from their injuries. The same goes for Paul Pogba. The French continues to rehab from a nagging hamstring injury suffered against FC Basel in the UEFA Champions League.