Posted on: Thu 10 Oct 2013

While the focus during this international break centres on the senior level and who will secure their place at next summer's World Cup finals in Brazil, there is also plenty at stake for those at Under-21, Under-19 and Under-18 levels.

The route to the Under-21 European Championships 2015 in Czech Republic remains in its initial stages, however the ante steps up a further notch this fortnight and there are several Chelsea youngsters involved in the action.

England, with Gareth Southgate now at the helm, assisted by Steve Holland, travel to San Marino on Thursday with a win and a draw on the board from their opening two group stage games. Nathaniel Chalobah (pictured) will be looking to feature from the start for the young Three Lions, having quickly become a regular for Nottingham Forest since moving out on loan last month. The 18-year-old has started both the previous two matches in the group, a 1-0 win over Moldova and a 1-1 draw in Finland.

Nathan Ake's Netherlands Under-21 side will be aiming to maintain their 100% start to qualification as they travel to Georgia on Thursday afternoon. The 18-year-old started last time out in a narrow 1-0 win over Luxembourg in Group 3 in which Marco van Ginkel, now sidelined with a cruciate ligament injury sustained in the Capital One Cup tie at Swindon, scored the winner from the penalty spot.

In the same group Milan Lalkovic's Slovakia have also taken all the points from their first two matches and will be seeking to continue their winning streak as they face a trip to Scotland on Thursday evening. Lalkovic, who has made 11 starts on loan at League One Walsall this term, has started in both of the opening Group 3 games.

On Friday there is a chance for Belgium Under-21s to continue their impressive start to the qualification campaign, having won their opening three matches. They travel to Northern Ireland, who have yet to earn a point in Group 9, with Thorgan Hazard looking to build on his own notable start to the 2013/14 campaign. The 20-year-old has seven goals in 12 appearances since rejoining Zulte Waregem in his homeland and also netted in the Under-21s' 3-1 qualifying win over Italy last month.

Elsewhere, Andreas Christensen (pictured below) could earn his third start of qualification as the Denmark Under-21s host Slovenia in Group 2. The 17-year-old has made steady progress through the international age groups and has been a regular at Under-21 level with Dermot Drummy's Blues side. The young Danes are looking to maintain their unbeaten record in the group and could go top if they win and leaders Russia drop points in Bulgaria.


As hosts of the tournament, Czech Republic have no need to qualify but there is an Under-20 friendly tournament in the Netherlands this week. The platform could provide the ideal next step in his return from injury for Tomas Kalas, who played 90 minutes for the Chelsea Under-21s in their 2-1 win over Manchester City on Sunday.

At Under-19 level, qualification for the 2014 European Championships in Hungary begins this week and there is a quartet of Chelsea representatives available for Noel Blake's England side as they face Slovenia, Andorra and Switzerland over the next seven days. The qualifying rounds take place in week-long mini-tournaments and there will be opportunities for Mitchell Beeney, Lewis Baker, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and John Swift all to impress as the young Three Lions look to progress to the elite round held in the spring.

In Group 5 there was an initial call-up to the Scotland squad for Islam Feruz, however the young striker has since withdrawn from the squad.

Finally, there is involvement for a trio of Chelsea boys as the England Under-18s host Hungary in a double-header at St George's Park, with the opener to be played on Friday. Ola Aina, Kasey Palmer and Alex Kiwomya could feature in the friendly games. At the same level, schoolboy Kyle Scott could be involved for the United States as they face France, Czech Republic and Poland in a tournament held in France.

By Sam Poplett.