The Blues have played midweek football for the past 11 weeks in succession, but while the club may have a break between the games against Newcastle United and Wigan Athletic, for a number of our players it’s a case of business as usual, albeit in a different shirt…
Ashley Cole will become only the seventh player in history to reach 100 caps for England if he features in Wednesday’s friendly against Brazil at Wembley.
Manager Roy Hodgson has gone on record to state that, if fit, the Chelsea left-back will play at least some part against the five-time World Cup winners and join an exclusive club made up of Billy Wright, Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore, Peter Shilton, David Beckham and Steven Gerrard.
Hodgson hopes the 32-year-old, who made his debut for the national team against Albania back in 2002, will receive the ovation his achievement warrants from the home supporters.
‘I am expecting people to give him the credit he deserves,’ said the England boss. ‘Reaching 100 matches is an incredible milestone and he deserves an enormous pat on the back.
‘Hopefully he will celebrate his 100 games in the same way Steven Gerrard was able to against Sweden.
‘It goes to show how consistent he is as a performer. I am looking forward to congratulating him.’
Former Chelsea right-back Glen Johnson has also spoken about Cole this week.
‘The 100 caps is fantastic for Ashley and, for me, no-one deserves it more,’ said the England international. ‘As a player, he’s been a proper pro for many years in the Premier League and done some great things in the game. He has been a key member of any team he has been involved with season after season. Does he get the credit he deserves? Not at times, no. He’s been consistent for many years.’
With three Chelsea players in each squad, and Luiz Felipe Scolari taking charge of the Brazil side for the first time since returning to the role, there is plenty to keep Blues fans interested.
Frank Lampard is only six caps behind Cole, and the midfielder, who scored his 197th goal for the Blues at Newcastle on Saturday, will hope to make it number 94, while Gary Cahill, who has started the last six games for Chelsea, will also hope to be involved.
Our Brazilian trio will have mixed memories from previous visits to Wembley. Ramires scored crucial goals in both the FA Cup final and semi-final last season, while David Luiz was forced out of the semi-final with an injury. Oscar, meanwhile, missed out on an Olympic gold medal in the summer.
Elsewhere, Cesar Azpilicueta will be desperate to earn his first senior cap for Spain after being called into the squad for their game against Uruguay in Qatar. Juan Mata, who scored his 16th club goal of the season at the weekend, is also involved.
Having missed our last three games through suspension, Eden Hazard will be eager to get back to action when Belgium take on Slovakia in Bruges. On-loan trio Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Thibaut Courtois are also included.
It remains to be seen if Demba Ba, who suffered a broken nose on his return to Newcastle, can play for Senegal against Guinea in Paris on Tuesday evening.
Yossi Benayoun, who made his first Chelsea appearance since the opening day of last season during the recent 2-2 draw at Reading, will hope to step up his match fitness by featuring for Israel when they entertain Finland, while Branislav Ivanovic’s Serbia head to Nicosia to take on Cyprus.
Although Petr Cech is ruled out of Czech Republic’s friendly in Turkey, on-loan central defender Tomas Kalas is in the squad.
Nathaniel Chalobah was named as England Men’s Young Player of the Year on Sunday, and having made his Under-21 debut for the national team back in November, the youngster, who has been in impressive form of late during his loan spell at Watford, will be confident of following that up with another cap against Sweden on Wednesday.
Josh McEachran, another player who has been spending the season in the Championship on loan, this time with Middlesbrough, has also been named in the squad.
Lewis Baker, who has been a regular for Dermot Drummy’s Under-21s this season, has been named in the England Under-19s squad for their game against Denmark at Doncaster Rovers’ Keepmoat Stadium on Tuesday.
Islam Feruz scored the only goal of the game in our Under-21s’ 1-0 win over Sunderland at the weekend. Both he and Chelsea team-mate Alex Davey, who also played in the game, are part of the Scotland Under-19s squad who face a big test against the Netherlands in Veenendaal. That is a Wednesday game.
If selected, there is a good chance the duo will be up against Nathan Ake, the versatile Dutch youngster who made his Blues first team debut in the Boxing Day win at Norwich City.
Milan Lalkovic, meanwhile, who played alongside Feruz for our Under-21s on Sunday, will hope to play some part for Slovakia Under-21s against Switzerland on Thursday. Thorgan Hazard is in the Belgian Under-21 squad to play at home to Spain.
Jeffrey Bruma and Patrick van Aanholt are in the Dutch Under-21 squad to face Croatia.