International break already

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The new season has only just kicked off and already we’re looking at an international break, courtesy of a round of meaningless friendlies.

Steven Gerrard is called up to Fabio Capello’s England squad who play Czech Republic at Wembley on Wednesday. He is Liverpool’s only representative in the squad, but there is no place for former Red Peter Crouch in the 23-man squad. He has been overlooked, while another former Liverpool forward has been included, Emile Heskey.

Meanwhile, two Liverpool players are in the Republic of Ireland squad for their friendly against Norway on Wednesday. Full back Steve Finnan has come out of international retirement to link up with their new coach Giovanni Trapattoni and joins new team-mate Robbie Keane in their squad.

Defender Daniel Agger returns to Denmark’s squad for their match with Spain – where he will face some familiar faces in Vicente Del Bosque’s first match in charge of the Euro 2008 champions. Alvaro Arbeloa has been left out of the squad but Torres, Alonso and Reina are all in.

Elsewhere, Sami Hyypia could line-up against Yossi Benayoun as Finland host Isreal and Italian left back Andrea Dossena has been called up for their friendly with Austria.

And, of course, Rafa Benitez already has Mascherano, Lucas and Babel away on Olympic duty in Beijing. They are set to miss next week’s home opener with Middlesbrough.