The International Blues

08 September 2013 06:06
THIRTEEN TOFFEES ON INTERNATIONAL DUTY An international break for the majority of Everton fans, and increasingly to that affect a lot of football fans in general, is not a time to get behind their country but a time of apprehension in the fact that players could return to their respective clubs injured. However there is still some part of us all that wants our players to have fledging international careers.

On Thursday night, John Stones completed 90 minutes for England U21s in Gareth Southgate’s inaugural game in charge. The former Barnsley defender helped Southgate’s new side defeat Moldova U21s 1-0 at the Madejski Stadium after a goal from West Brom’s Saido Berahino on his U21 debut. On the same evening, Spain U21s ran out 6-2 victors against Austria in Graz although Gerard Deulofeu was an unused sub.

Friday saw another start and full 90 minutes in an England shirt for Blues captain Phil Jagielka in the 4-0 win at Wembley against Moldova with goals from skipper Steven Gerrard, Rickie Lambert and two from Danny Welbeck. Additionally Leighton Baines replaced Ashley Cole at halftime and completed the second half, while Ross Barkley made his senior international debut for the Three Lions. The 19-year-old was given 30 minutes by Roy Hodgson to impress and nearly scored within minutes of his introduction seeing an attempt narrowly miss the goal.

Across the Irish Sea, both Seamus Coleman and Everton new-boy James McCarthy played the entire game for the Republic of Ireland against Sweden. Despite taking the lead the Irish were defeated by Sweden through goals from Johan Elmander and Anders Svensson after LA Galaxy striker Robbie Keane opened the scoring.

In the Highlands, Scotland were beaten comfortably 2-0 at Hampden Park by an impressive looking Belgian side. Deadline day loan signing Romelu Lukaku and Steven Naismith were unused substitutes for Belgium and Scotland, respectively. One Everton player that did come off the bench was winger Kevin Mirallas who replaced former Blues teammate Marouane Fellaini. Two minutes before stoppage time Mirallas made Grant Hanley pay for a missed interception by converting a left foot shot into the top of the Scotland goal and passed David Marshall.

Elsewhere in Group A, Nikica Jelavic was given thirteen minutes by Croatia in their 1-1 draw with Serbia.

Finally, Saturday morning’s short hours saw Bryan Oviedo and Tim Howard do battle with Costa Rica beating the USA 3-1 at home; both completing the full 90 minutes.

With England U21s playing in Finland and Spain U21s playing against Albania tomorrow, John Stones and Gerard Deulofeu may be given an opportunity or in Stones’ case further opportunity to impress on the international stage. Jagielka, Baines and Barkley travel to Ukraine to play on Tuesday night, and Coleman and McCarthy will be part of the Ireland squad facing Austria. Mirallas and Lukaku have the midweek off with no Group A qualifier game but Steven Naismith will travel to Macedonia to attempt what Wales could not do on Friday and claim victory. Nikica Jelavic and Croatia do battle with South Korea and finally, Tim Howard and his USA side welcome Mexico over the border in the early hours of Wednesday morning.