INTERNATIONAL CALL-UPS: WHO IS AWAY?
International football returns this week with a mixture of competitive and friendly games awaiting a number of our players…
Cameroon, expected to be captained by Eto'o, have a home tie with Tunisia in Yaoundé. The two sides drew 0-0 in the first leg in Tunisia last month, and the Indomitable Lions will be hoping home advantage proves the difference in their quest to reach a seventh World Cup.
Michael Essien and Christian Atsu have both been named in the Ghana squad that travel to Egypt with a healthy 6-1 advantage from the first leg. Essien and Atsu both played in that rout, with our on-loan Vitesse man scoring the sixth. The return leg in Cairo is on Monday afternoon.
Finally in the African continent, our Nigerian trio of John Mikel Obi, Kenneth Omeruo and Victor Moses will have a chance to book their place to Brazil if they can avoid defeat against Ethiopia in the southern Nigerian city of Calabar on Saturday afternoon. They lead 2-1 from the first leg, and qualification would cap a great year for Mikel and Moses, yesterday named on the five-man shortlist for the BBC African Footballer of the Year award. The Super Eagles then fly to England for a friendly against Italy at Craven Cottage on Monday evening.
Otherwise, our first team players are in friendly action. England, with Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill, play Chile and Germany - who count Andre Schurrle among their number - at Wembley. Lampard will receive his commemorative 100th cap, marking his century of games for the Three Lions, before the Chile game on Friday night. Schurrle's Germany warm up for their trip to the capital with a game against Italy in Milan.
Two of international football's most exciting teams go head to head on Thursday, as Belgium host Colombia in Brussels. Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Thibaut Courtois are all in the Red Devils squad, and will also hope to feature against Japan next Tuesday.
Petr Cech's Czech Republic team have a game against Canada, while Serbia, captained by Branislav Ivanovic, travel to Dubai to play Fabio Capello's Russia. Both those games are on Friday night. Juan Mata and Spain, meanwhile, head to Africa to face Equatorial Guinea and South Africa.
At youth level, Nathan Ake is in the Holland Under-21 squad that travels to Slovakia in a European Under-21 qualifying fixture, while Andreas Christensen will be hoping to feature for Denmark in the same qualifying process. They face trips to Bulgaria and Andorra. Thorgan Hazard is available for Belgium's game in Serbia on Friday, another European Under-21 qualifying fixture.
Nathaniel Chalobah, on loan at Nottingham Forest, is in Gareth Southgate's England Under-21 squad for their qualification matches at home to Finland and San Marino. Their game with Finland is on Thursday in Milton Keynes.
As hosts of the 2015 Under-21 European Championship Czech Republic have already qualified, so there's friendly action for Tomas Kalas, against Cyprus and England's C team. The latter match will be played at Woking's Kingfield Stadium on Tuesday evening, with the Czechs taking on an England side comprised of players that play at non-league level and are under the age of 23.
England's Under-19 squad contains four young Blues, with Ola Aina, Lewis Baker, Mitchell Beeney and John Swift all available for their game against Hungary on Thursday. Meanwhile, Chike Kandi is the Welsh Under-19 squad for their trio of fixtures against Georgia, Holland and Moldova.