INTERNATIONAL CALL-UPS: WHO IS AWAY?

Posted on: Tue 08 Oct 2013

The break in domestic action sees a number of our players head off on international duty, and it's crunch time for those hoping to secure a place at next summer's World Cup as the qualification process edges towards its conclusion.

Belgium could be the next nation to qualify for Brazil 2014, and if they do ensure their progression there's a fair chance one or more of the four Chelsea players in the squad will have played a part. Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne have been selected by Marc Wilmots for their matches against Croatia and Wales, and they've been joined by two players currently out on loan, Romelu Lukaku and Thibaut Courtois.

Stories had circulated suggesting De Bruyne had picked up an injury in training, but the winger dismissed those reports via his Twitter feed, saying: 'Just to say, I'm fully fit for the game against Croatia. No injury at all.'

The game against Croatia on Friday is the crucial one; Belgium are currently five points ahead of their closest challengers and should they avoid defeat they will qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 2002.

Andre Schurrle's Germany are another side on the verge of qualifying, with the three-time winners needing only to avoid defeat against Republic of Ireland on Friday to finish as Group C winners. They play Sweden in Stockholm four days later.

For an England squad containing Frank Lampard, Gary Cahill and Ashley Cole, qualification remains in their own hands. Two wins in home matches against Montenegro and Poland at Wembley would see them through. However, failure to achieve that would leave them relying on results elsewhere. Cole has pulled out of the Montenegro game after picking up a rib injury in our 3-1 win at Norwich but will hope to be available for the match against Poland.

In Group I, Spain, who are top on goal difference, are guaranteed to finish in the top two places. Vicente del Bosque's side, for whom Juan Mata will hope to be involved, need four points from their remaining two games at home to Belarus and Georgia to guarantee qualification.

It's play-off time in Africa, with four of our players involved in two-legged ties to decide who qualifies. John Mikel Obi and Victor Moses have been named in the Nigeria squad ahead of their match against Ethiopia, while Michael Essien and Christian Atsu's Ghana take on Egypt. Samuel Eto'o and his Cameroon side, meanwhile, face Tunisia.

Elsewhere, Petr Cech's Czech Republic, who are realistically unable to qualify for the tournament, finish their campaign with matches against Malta and Bulgaria.

Branislav Ivanovic's Serbia face Japan in a friendly at home on Friday before taking on Macedonia in a qualifier next Tuesday.

As hosts of the competition, Brazil's participation is guaranteed, but their warm-up campaign continues with matches against South Korea and Zambia, with Chelsea trio David Luiz, Ramires and Oscar all named in the squad. The first game will take place in Seoul with the second being staged in Beijing.

A full round-up of which of our younger players have gone away on international duty will follow.