International football returns to the fold after a five-month absence, here’s where Liverpool’s players are in action this fortnight.
If the Reds’ capitulation at Southampton on Sunday wasn’t bad enough, we now have to sit through the tedium of an international break – our next game isn’t until April 2nd, at home to Tottenham.
With Euro 2016 and Copa America on the horizon, national team managers will be keen to see which players they can rely on ahead of the summer. Fans themselves can get Euro 2016 tips as the tournament draws closer.
Liverpool have many first-team squad members away on international duty over the next week or two, as they look to enhance their own chances of featuring more prominently for their respective countries.
Here’s a round-up of who is representing their nation, and where:
- Missing through injury: Roberto Firmino, Danny Ings, Joe Gomez
- Not involved: Jon Flanagan, Jose Enrique, Kolo Toure, Steven Caulker, Alberto Moreno, Lucas Leiva, Tiago Ilori, Cameron Brannagan, Kevin Stewart, Joao Teixeira, Pedro Chirivella
Nathaniel Clyne, Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Adam Lallana & Daniel Sturridge – England
The Liverpool quintet should all feature at some point during England’s two friendlies against Germany and Holland, on Saturday and next Tuesday.
Clyne looks set to battle Kyle Walker for a starting berth at right-back, while Henderson is certainly someone Roy Hodgson will consider in the middle of the park.
Milner and Lallana have both been favourites of the former Reds manager in recent times, although there is plenty of competition in their areas of the pitch.
With Raheem Sterling, Theo Walcott, Dele Alli and Ross Barkley all in and around Hodgson’s best possible eleven, both will Milner and Lallana will have to impress in these next two matches.
Sturridge has stern competition in Harry Kane, Wayne Rooney, Jamie Vardy and Danny Welbeck in attack, but when fit, the 26-year-old is the best of the lot.
He has hasn’t featured for his country since 2014, however, and will be desperate to impress.
Simon Mignolet, Divock Origi & Christian Benteke – Belgium
Belgium are undoubtedly one of the favourites going into Euro 2016, with Marc Wilmots’ side currently ranked number one in the world rankings.
The Liverpool trio of Mignolet, Origi and Benteke are all very much squad players, and will have to do something special in their friendly at home to Portugal a week on Tuesday to change that.
Thibaut Courtois is first-choice in goal for the European outfit, while Everton’s Romelu Lukaku is undoubtedly at the top of the strikers’ pecking order currently.
Origi has enormous potential, though, and his impressive form for Liverpool could see him given more of a chance than his two Reds teammates.
Philippe Coutinho & Emre Can – Brazil & Germany
Two of Liverpool’s player of the year contenders have been called up for their respective nations, with both Coutinho and Can surely set to become key players internationally in the coming years.
Coutinho was inexplicably axed from Brazil’s 2014 World Cup squad, but coach Dunga now sees him as an integral part of the set-up.
He could start in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Paraguay.
Can, meanwhile, has been in magnificent form at the heart of Liverpool’s midfield, and has deservedly made the cut for world champions Germany.
The 22-year-old will face his club teammates in the grudge match with England on Saturday, and is likely to feature against Italy the following Tuesday as well.
Germany have an incredible array of talent in their midfield, so for Can to be part of it shows just what a formidable footballer he is maturing into.
Mamadou Sakho & Dejan Lovren – France & Croatia
Sakho has returned to the top of his game, following some shaky displays at the start of the year, and has a good chance of starting for France in the summer.
The 26-year-old will hope to impress for Les Bleus in their friendly matches against Holland and Russia, respectively.
Lovren has overcome his dreadful first year at Anfield, and his consistent performances at centre-back have seen him included in Croatia’s squad to face Israel on Wednesday.
Joe Allen – Wales
The midfielder has come of age this season for Liverpool, but he has always been a key figure for Wales in recent years.
It would be a shock if the 26-year-old was not one of the starting midfielders against Northern Ireland and Ukraine, and in Euro 2016 too.
Marko Grujic, Lazar Markovic & Brad Smith – Serbia & Australia
Grujic is yet to play for Liverpool – he will officially join in the summer – but his impressive displays for Red Star Belgrade have seen the teenager rewarded with a maiden call-up for Serbia’s senior side.
Markovic, on loan at Fenerbahce, also features.
Smith, who has grown in stature as a deputy left-back for Liverpool this season, is a part of the Socceroos squad that faces Tajikistan and Jordan.
Adam Bogdan – Hungary
The out-of-favour Liverpool goalkeeper has still retained his place in Hungary’s squad, and they face Croatia on Saturday.
Jordon Ibe, Ryan Kent & Sheyi Ojo – England U21s, U20s & U19s
Ibe has been frozen out a little under Jurgen Klopp in 2016, but an impressive showing for England’s U21s away to Switzerland on Saturday will give the 20-year-old a much-needed confidence boost.
Both Ojo and Kent are key men for their respective Three Lions youth teams, with the former potentially featuring in three qualifiers in five days for the U20s, against Georgia, Greece and Spain.
Kent, meanwhile, will hope to play a key role when his U19s team play Canada on Sunday, at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium.
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