My relationship with the national team is one of great eccentricity. Whilst my connection to Manchester United is far more habitual, an ongoing tale of consistent allegiance and devotion that merits dizzy highs and ghastly lows, the relationship I have with England is somewhat more arbitrary; a feeling of total disinterest, something that lasts for around 2 years will suddenly morph into this uncontrollable attachment to my country’s team, usually a 3 week spell that leads up and into a major tournament. Once England are dumped out of the tournament, they receive a dumping from me likewise, my attentions revert back to Manchester United, and we repeat this childish fling in 2 years time.
Playing Slovenia in a European Championship qualifier doesn’t necessarily get the pulse racing, in fact, quite the opposite. Watching England plod around a half-empty Wembley with the unbearable dull-set tones of Andy Townsend, as well as the scandalously straight forward and mundane points put forward by Adrian Chiles whilst my Twitter feed is awash with criticism for Danny Welbeck, the whole thing can be a bit of an ordeal.
For the next two weeks, England’s football team isn’t of my concern. Instead, my attention will be diverted towards the well being of Manchester United’s players; if the last 2 and half months are anything to go by, around 8 of the 12 senior reds on International duty will return with injuries. With defensive options wearing thin, now would not be the best time for Chris Smalling and Michael Carrick to pull their calves, rupture their ACL, lose a limb, etc.
Rafael, Phil Jones, Falcao and Jonny Evans will all be given time to recover from their respective injuries in order to be ready for the encounter with Arsenal at the Emirates on 22nd November, none of the above have been included in their International squads.
Angel Di Maria will remain local, as he looks set to feature for Argentina against Croatia at Upton Park and Portugal at Old Trafford.
Wayne Rooney, Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw and Michael Carrick will be a part of the senior team as they take on Slovenia at Wembley before crossing the border for a ‘post referendum soirée’ with Scotland. Michael Keane is in the Under 21 squad for upcoming internationals against Portugal and France; Ben Pearson could face Canada and Portugal in the Under 20’s.
Darren Fletcher could potentially come up against some of his current and past teammates for Scotland, who face an Irish team captained by John O’Shea and England in their ‘friendly’ fixture in Glasgow.
Robin Van Persie will captain his country alongside Daley Blind, The Netherlands host internationals against a Mexico side containing Javier Hernandez as well as taking on Latvia.
Following 3 starts and 3 wins whilst playing for Manchester United, Paddy McNair has turned a few heads, including those of the Northern Ireland selectors. The 19 year old could win his first senior cap for his country in a vital European qualifier away to Romania on Friday following his inclusion.
Juan Mata hasn’t been included a Spain side that have upcoming home Internationals against Belarus and Germany, but his very good friend DavidDe Gea might feature for his country at some point in the next two weeks. The 24 year old was finally awarded his first international cap in a 4-0 away win over Luxembourg last month.
12 senior players could play 1170 minutes between them in the next 2 weeks. With a vital encounter away to Arsenal coming up, avoiding injuries is crucial (but also quite unlikely).
Enjoy the international break, everyone! (If you can bear it.)