With a break for international now upon us, the official Chelsea website runs the rule over which of our players will be off representing their countries as the qualification process for next summer’s World Cup gathers momentum…
Ramires has been recalled to the Brazil squad by Luiz Felipe Scolari having missed their successful Confederations Cup campaign. As hosts, Brazil qualify automatically for the 2014 World Cup, but on Saturday they will play a friendly at home to Australia who feature Mark Schwarzer in their squad, before a game the following Tuesday against Portugal in Boston. Australia have already qualified for the World Cup.
Ramires joins Chelsea team-mates Oscar and David Luiz in the Brazil squad.
Michael Essien has returned to the Ghana squad having not featured for his nation since suffering injury during the Africa Cup of Nations in January 2010..
Ghana, who top their World Cup qualification group, play Zambia at home on Friday. Should they finish in first place, they will go into a play-off against another group winner to determine which nation progresses to Brazil.
Victor Moses and John Mikel Obi have both been named in the Nigeria squad for their matches against Malawi and Burkina Faso on Saturday and the following Tuesday. The Super Eagles are top of their group at present and have a two-point advantage over Malawi.
Our latest acquisition, Samuel Eto’o, having scored both goals for Cameroon in their most recent qualifier – a 2-1 win over Togo – will no doubt be hoping for a similar outcome when they play Lybia.
If recent form is anything to go by, it will be the Belgians out of our European players who book their place in Brazil first. Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku are in the squad, as is on-loan Thibaut Courtois.
Marc Wilmot’s side, who have only dropped two points in qualifying so far, currently lead second-placed Croatia by three points, with the two teams scheduled to meet in October. For now, however, Belgium’s focus will rest solely on securing a positive result when they take on Scotland at Hampden Park on Friday.De Bruyne has already netted three times during the campaign, while Hazard has scored twice.
Branislav Ivanovic’s Serbia occupy third place in the group, although they are quite far off the pace, trailing Croatia by nine points. They will need to take something off Croatia when the two teams meet on Friday, before facing Wales in Cardiff next week.
England play Moldova at Wembley on Friday, before making the trip to take on Ukraine in Kiev four days later. Roy Hodgson’s side, for which Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill will hope to play a part, will be strong favourites to win the first game but it’s the second one, with only one point separating the two teams, which could prove pivotal.
Lampard will reach the 100-cap mark if he features in both matches.
Czech Republic face a double-header against Armenia and Italy as they look to close the gap on the teams above them in Group B. Petr Cech is expected to play in both matches, but with his side trailing group leaders Italy by five points, qualification is by no means a formality.
Germany have a significant lead at the top of Group C, and two positive results against Austria and the Faroe Islands will all but guarantee their safe passage. Andre Schurrle is in the squad.
Spain have not selected Juan Mata, Fernando Torres or Cesar Azpilicueta for their two matches.
International involvement, though, isn’t purely restricted to our more senior players, with a number of the club’s youngsters also going away.
still awaiting his first competitive start for the Blues, but the youngster will hope to feature for the Netherlands in their double-header against Andorra and Estonia.
Nathan Ake has earned a first call-up to the Dutch Under-21 squad for their matches against Scotland and Luxembourg and Marco van Ginkel is also in the Under-21 squad, while Andreas Christensen is part of the Denmark Under-21 squad for their games against Andorra and Slovenia.
In the younger England age groups the Blues are heavily represented. Nathaniel Chalobah, who signed a new five-year contract at Stamford Bridge last week, has been named in the Under-21 squad, where he is joined by Todd Kane. The right-back, currently out on loan at Blackburn Rovers, has started the season in fine fashion, and scored in their recent 5-0 win over Barnsley.
The young Blues duo will see a familiar face when they join up with the group, as Steve Holland will be assisting new manager Gareth Southgate. The games are on Thursday and next Monday.
The Under-19s, meanwhile, play away in Estonia on Thursday, with Lewis Baker, Ola Aina, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mitchell Beeney all part of the squad.
On-loan Thorgan Hazard is in the Belgium Under-21 squad to play Northern Ireland next Monday. Charly Musonda will represent Belgium in a Under-19s tournament, while another youngster, Isak Ssewankambo, is part of the Sweden Under-17s squad who will play a double-header against Iraq.
Jeremie Boga has also been called up for a double-header. France Under-17s take on Ukraine in Kiev on Tuesday 10th and Thursday 12th.