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Royals called up ahead of UEFA Nations League qualifiers

A round-up of who’s going where this week…

3 September 2018

It’s the first international break of the new season – and we’ve got plenty of players involved in the brand new UEFA Nations League, which begins over the course of the coming days.

The brand new competition sees UEFA’s member nations split into four tiered leagues, and then sub-divided into micro-groups.  There’s promotion and relegation on offer, and winners of the four top-flight ‘Group A’ mini-leagues will contest a finals tournament in July 2019.

After consecutive appearances at the European Championships and World Cup, Iceland and Jón Daði Böðvarsson qualified to be one of 12 nations in Group A – and they will be looking to defy the odds once more when they visit Switzerland in St Gallen on Saturday 8th September, before hosting Belgium on Tuesday 11th September in Reykjavik, both in Group A3 of qualifying.

Böðvarsson missed out on the Royals squad through illness at the weekend, but at this stage is still currently scheduled to be part of the Iceland group in their upcoming fixtures.

Both Wales and Ireland are in the same pool in the second-tier – Group B4 – meaning two Royals could square off.  David Meyler and his teammates from the Emerald Isle face Chris Gunter’s Dragons in Cardiff on Thursday 6th September – if Gunter plays both, he’ll just be two caps short of Neville Southall’s all-time Wales record of 92. 

Wales then travel to Aarhus to meet Denmark in their second group game on Sunday 9th September, while Ireland play Poland in Wroclaw on Tuesday 11th September.

Goalkeeper Anssi Jaakkola and his Finland teammates have a pair of home games in Group C2 to look forward to – Hungary visit Tampere on Saturday 8th September, and then Estonia travel to Turku on Tuesday 11th September.

There’s a similar format happening across the Atlantic, and Leandro Bacuna and Curaçao will be part of it as they host Grenada on Monday 10th September in Willemstad – it’s the first of at least four fixtures as they begin qualifying for the CONCACAF Nations League.

And Andrija Novakovich, currently on loan at Fortuna Sittard, has been selected for the USA once again as they prepare to meet five-time World Cup winners Brazil on Friday 7th September in New Jersey, and then neighbours Mexico on Tuesday 11th September in Nashville.  The six-game ‘Kickoff Series’ for the USMNT, over the course of the three international breaks this year, is preparation for their World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign.

Before new recruit Saeid Ezatolahi links up with the Royals, he will be part of an Iran side which travel across the border to Uzbekistan on Tuesday 11th September for a friendly fixture – the first game for his nation since their 1-1 draw in the World Cup against Portugal.

And lastly, at senior level, Andy Yiadom’s Ghana continue their Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign with a visit to Kenya – a win in Nairobi would help their cause of reaching the finals tournament in Cameroon next summer.

At Under-21 level, Tom McIntyre has been selected for Scotland U21 and Pelle Clement called up for the Netherlands U21 – the two could meet in a 2019 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifier in Doetinchem.  Firstly, Scotland will host Andorra at Hearts’ stadium Tynecastle, and Netherlands will play England at Norwich City’s Carrow Road.

And Danny Loader continues his involvement with the Young Lions, as he links up with England U19 ahead of a home fixture against the Netherlands (Wednesday 5th September) and then away in Belgium (Monday 10th September).

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