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Preview: International Royals on duty for their nations...

21 March 2017

A look at the Royals on international duty over the coming week

Six members of the Reading first team squad could well be in international action over the coming few days, with various members of the Royals team jetting off to join their national sides for various competitive and friendly matches around the World.
A number of Royals will be involved in action around Europe, with the next round of World Cup qualification taking place in the coming week. Reading stopper Ali Al-Habsi will be heading to Oman to captain his nation, with John Swift and Reece Oxford both earning call-ups to the England U21s and U19s respectively.

Ali Al-Habsi: Oman v Bhutan, Muscat, 28th March, 16:00 kick-off.

Reading Goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi is due to represent his native Oman in the opening game of the countries Asia Cup qualification bid. Oman sit in a qualification group alongside the Maldives and Palestine as well as Bhutan, who they will face next Tuesday in Muscat.

Oman will be looking to get their Asia Cup qualifying off to the best possible start, with Al-Habsi due to make his first appearance for his country in 2017 on the March 28th.

The Reading stopper has been in fine form of late, producing one of the performances of the season with his stunning display at Sheffield Wednesday last Friday, as Reading took all three points away from Hillsborough. He will be looking to continue that level of performance when he pulls on the captain’s armband for Oman in a weeks time. 

Chris Gunter: Wales v Rep of Ireland, Dublin, 24th March, 19:45 kick-off.

Reading’s ever present full-back Chris Gunter will again be representing the Dragons in the coming week when they face the Republic of Ireland in the next round of fixtures for World Cup qualification. Wales will be looking for a bit result when they travel to Dublin after getting off to a slow start in the Qualification process.

Gunter was due to face two of his club colleagues after Paul McShane and Liam Kelly were both called into the Republic of Ireland squad last week. However injuries to both the skipper and Kelly saw them miss our trip to Sheffield so their inclusion in Martin O’Neill’s squad must be in doubt.

After four games in Group D Wales sit third with six points to their name, and four points behind the Group leaders Ireland. A big result is needed from Gunter and his international teammates at the Aviva as they look to bridge the gap between themselves and the top of the table. 

Adrian Popa:  Romania v Denmark, Cluj, 26th March, 19:45 kick-off.

After netting his first goal for the club last Friday in dramatic late circumstances, Reading winger Adrian Popa has received a call-up from his native Romania for their World Cup qualifier against Denmark in Cluj on Sunday evening.

Romania sit fourth in Group E with five points on the board so far in qualification. Sitting only a point behind Sunday’s opposition Denmark, the game represents the chance for Popa and the rest of the Romania squad to leapfrog the third placed Danes and, results permitting, could see them rise as high as second in the group. 
Deniss Rakels: Latvia v Switzerland, Geneva, 25th March, 18:00 kick-off 
                                    v Georgia, Tbilisi, 28th March, 11:00 kick-off, International Friendly

A difficult clash awaits Deniss Rakels’ Latvia on Saturday as they travel to Geneva to face Group B leaders Switzerland. The Latvians have three points on the board thus far and are up against a Swiss outfit that have won every game in the qualification process to-date.

Latvia’s last outing was a 4-1 defeat to European Championship winners Portugal, with the nation looking to bounce-back and glean a big result from their trip to Geneva.    

John Swift: England U21 v Germany, Wiesbaden, 24th March, 19:00 kick-off.
                                       v Denmark, AutoC Park Randers, 27th March 19:00 kick-off.

Royals midfielder John Swift again received the call to join up with the England U21 squad during this international break. Aidy Boothroyd will be hoping for two big results after only taking the job on a permanent basis in recent months.

Swift, who sustained an injury in his last game for the U21s, will be hoping for better luck this time around as the squad travel to Germany and Denmark for two big games in the space of three days. The two matches will be a chance for the Young Lions continue their preparations for this summer’s U21 Euros.

Swift will be hoping to cement his place in Boothroyd’s plans for the summer, with more strong performances on the international stage after impressing for his country to date.

Reece Oxford: England U19 v Norway, 22nd March St Georges Park.
                                             v Spain, 24th March, St Georges Park.
                                             v Belarus, 27th March, St Georges Park.

Reece Oxford will be joining up with England U19s as they take part in a trio of fixtures at St Georges Park over the international week. England are set to meet Norway, Spain and Belarus in the UEFA Elite Round Qualifier, with the winner of their group advancing to the tournament Finals in Georgia this summer.

Tomorrow will see the Young Lions face Norway before a clash with Spain on Friday, finishing with a match-up against Belarus next Monday. Oxford has played consistently for England through the youth system and will be hoping to help out the U19s as they bid to seal a place in the summer tournament over the next few days.

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