A look ahead to a long weekend of international actionThe international break means that several Reading players will be heading around the world to represent their nations.
Some are just friendly fixtures – most are crunch clashes with places at international tournaments at stake. Here is what’s coming up for our squad at full international level (all times listed are UK time)…
Gibraltar vs Ireland – Fri 4th Sept, 19.45
Ireland vs Georgia – Mon 7th Sept, 19.45
Summer signings Stephen Quinn and Paul McShane are aiming to push Ireland up the table in Group D in the Euro 2016 qualifying table. They currently lie fourth, but with Poland, Germany and Scotland all looking to take points off each other over the same weekend, there will be an opportunity to peg places back. A trip to Faro to face a Gibraltar side which has scored once and shipped 34 goals in six games ought to be a gimme; beating Georgia at the Aviva Stadium might prove more challenging. A stoppage-time winner from Everton man Aiden McGeady helped Ireland to a 2-1 win when they met in Tbilisi at the start of the qualifying campaign, exactly a year to the day before the upcoming return fixture.
Jamaica vs Nicaragua – Sat 5th Sept, 02.00
Nicaragua vs Jamaica – Wed 9th Sept, 02.30
The World Cup qualifying campaign for Jamaica hinges on a two-legged tie against Nicaragua – Garath McCleary won’t be travelling on this occasion, with a child on the way, but Michael Hector will represent the Reggae Boyz in Kingston before the return leg four days later in Managua. The winner of the tie will progress to the fourth round, where they’ll be grouped with Costa Rica, Panama and either Grenada or Haiti. The losing country, however, will have to watch the 2018 World Cup from home.
Faroe Islands vs Northern Ireland – Fri 4th Sept, 19.45
Northern Ireland vs Hungary – Mon 7th Sept, 19.45
The Northern Ireland lie second in their Euro 2016 qualifying group and stand on the brink of qualifying for the European Championships for the first time in their history – and Oliver Norwood will be part of that team. A trip to Torshavn to face Faroe Islands in qualifying Group F won’t be a walkover – the 2000 champions Greece have been beaten home and away by the Faroese. After that comes a potentially definitive match against third-placed Hungary, who host leaders Romania in their first game of the weekend.
Oman vs Turkmenistan – Thu 3rd Sept, 16.00
Guam vs Oman – Tue 8th Sept, 07.00
Royals stopper Ali Al-Habsi, who has over a century of caps to his name already, is heading to Seeb to represent Oman against Turkmenistan in the first Royals-related fixture of the weekend. Al-Habsi played 90 minutes of the 2-1 win in India in their only other World Cup qualifying game so far in their AFC group. After that, it’s nearly 6,000 miles to Guam for their third game – the hosts currently top the group, having beaten Turkmenistan and India in their opening games.
USA vs Peru – Sat 5th Sept, 00.00
Colombia vs Peru – Wed 9th Sept, 01.00
Winger Paolo Hurtado could get minutes under his belt in a pair of friendly fixtures over the coming weekend. Firstly the South American nation take on USA in an exhibition at the RFK Memorial Stadium in Washington, D.C., before they travel to Red Bull Arena in New Jersey where they will take on their continental rivals Colombia on neutral ground.
USA vs Peru – Sat 5th Sept, 00.00
USA vs Brazil – Wed 9th Sept, 02.00
Midfielder Danny Williams could face new teammate Paolo Hurtado when the USA take on Peru in the USMNT’s first fixture of the international weekend. Then comes a high-profile friendly against five-time World Cup winners Brazil, which will be contested at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Both games take place in the small hours of the morning, as far as England-based Royals supporters are concerned.
Cyprus vs Wales – Thu 3rd Sept, 19.45
Wales vs Israel – Sun 6th Sept, 17.00
A pair of wins for Chris Gunter and Hal Robson-Kanu for Wales in their European Championship qualifiers over the forthcoming weekend would secure a place in Euro 2016. Currently at the top of the pile in Group B, Wales could put an insurmountable distance between themselves and both Cyprus and Israel if they can take six points. The first game comes away at Nicosia, before a return to the Cardiff City Stadium and a chance to guarantee a trip to France next summer, and a first ever appearance in the European Championships for Wales.
In youth internationals, Aaron Kuhl - who joined Dundee United on loan on transfer deadline day - will be in action for England Under-20 in a double-header of friendly games against their Czech counterparts at St George's Park and Greenhous Meadow, taking place on 5th September (3pm) and 7th September (7.30pm) respectively. Shane Griffin and Sean Long could represent Ireland Under-21 in a friendly against Qatar Under-23 on 4th September (6pm), which will act as preparation for a U21 Euro 2017 qualifier away in Andorra on 8th September (4pm).