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Group D fortunes swing for on duty Royals

14 November 2016

We round up the international action that matters...

The competition in Group D has certainly hotted up. Chris Gunter's Euro 2016 semi-finalists Wales were denied a valuable victory in Cardiff at the weekend, while Paul McShane's Irish eyes are smiling.

McShane was an unused substitute as Martin O'Neill's men secured a 1-0 win in Austria courtesy of James McClean's early second half strike. An away win in the Ernst-Happel Stadium keeps the Republic unbeaten in their qualification campaign.

Gunter played the full ninety minutes for his country and although it looked like Gareth Bale's first half goal would win three more points for Chris Coleman's side, Aleksandar Mitrovic's late equaliser meant the Welsh had to settle for a point on home turf.

4 down, 6 to go. Stick together, more of the same like yesterday and we'll be more than alright.

— Chris Gunter (@Chrisgunter16) November 13, 2016
Ireland now top the group standings with ten points from their first four games - Serbia sit in second on eight points, with Wales in third on six. There are six more games to go in the group thougha nd clearly plenty to play for as they battle it out for a place in Russia in 2018!

The only other European Royal in World Cup qualifying action this weekend was midfielder Sandro Wieser who played the full ninety minutes in a home match against Italy in the Rheinpark Stadion.

Liechtenstein's qualifcation hopes are slim as European minnows and goals from Immobile and Candreva and a brace from Belotti handed the Italians a commanding half-time lead. But the scoreline would stay at 0-4 as Wieser and his colleagues held Giampiero Ventura's men at bay in the secdond period.

Perhaps the most concerning news on the international front for Royals fans was news of an injury picked up by influential midfielder John Swift. Swift started in England U21 win over Italy at St Mary's late last week, but could only manage half an hour after picking up and injury to his ankle and being replaced by Will Hughes.

England came from behind to win 3-2 on the south coast thanks to Jack Stephens' injury time winner, but Swift had withdrawn from the second of England's friendly fixtures in France this week, returning to Reading with an ankle problem.

Fuming about my injury, but buzzing for this guy getting the winner @jackstephens_18 👊🏻 all the best to the squad out in France 🙌🏻🦁🦁

— John Swift (@JohnSwift8) November 12, 2016

Young goalkeeper Luke Southwood was part of an England U20 side that won two of their three Continental Cup games out in South Korea last week - Southwood an unused substitute in the final two games...a 2-1 defeat to the hosts and a 4-1 win against Iran in the Suwon World Cup Stadium at the weekend.

Southwood had kept a second half clean sheet when he played 45 minutes in his country's opening game of the tournament - an 8-1 win over Nigeria and England finished in second spot in the competition. More importantly, it provided Southwood and his teammates with an early experience of what to expect when they return to East Asia next May.

Ali Al Habsi was also in Asia, but not in goal as Oman shipped four goals against Japan in Kashima - Japan will now turn their attention to repeating the feat against Saudi Arabia, while the in form Royals stopper could well return to his place between the posts when Oman take on Myanmar today.

And Yakou Meite's Ivory Coast youngsters were also in action, losing 5-1 to France's U21s late last week. Meite will be hoping the training his has been doing with his country will benefit his return to full match fitness ahead of our home game against Burton Albion this weekend - the explosive winger came off the bench and scored from an offside permission with his last kick in a Royals shirt at the end of a 3-0 win for Jaap Stam's side in Wigan last weekend.

Retrouvaille avec mon ex coequipier !

— La brute (@Yaks75) November 8, 2016

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