International week usually sees English football fans switching off rather than tuning in, but with a number of Evertonians representing their national teams mid-week, there’s been plenty to play for. Find out how our lads fared on international duty in our round-up.
England- Leighton Baines & Ross Barkley
With Phil Jagielka forced out of Roy Hodgson’s squad with a tight hamstring, Baines and Barkley were the only Blues brightening up the national scene. However, with an FA Cup quarter-final at the Emirates on the horizon, Evertonians were delighted to see the pair fulfil their national duties on a rather comfy bench.
And let’s thank out lucky stars neither took to the Wembley turf after the news that Jack Wilshere has been ruled out for 6 weeks. The injury for the self-confessed ‘hard-man’ follows a half-hearted attempt to pinch the ball from Daniel Agger on Wednesday. Although, I am a bit disappointed the Scrappy-Do look-a-like will miss Saturday’s FA Cup encounter. There seems to be somewhat of an on-going tension between himself and Kevin Mirallas after the Belgian sprayed him with water last year, and it would be rather fun to see him try and bite back. Maybe next year Glass Man, maybe next year.
The Three Lions triumphed 1-0 against the international scene’s equivalent of Brentford, with the wriggly-armed Daniel Sturridge heading home for England from a delightful Adam Lallana cross.
Republic of Ireland- James McCarthy, Seamus Coleman & Aiden McGeady
All three of Everton’s Irish contingent started their friendly against Serbia. Things started well enough with Shane Long opening the scoring but a James McCarthy own-goal shortly after half-time galvanised the visitors who completed the come-back through Filip Dordevic on the hour.
McCarthy was left little time to atone for his misfortune as he found himself replaced along with McGeady when Martin O’Neill began to ring the changes. Coleman has been a mainstay of the Irish first-team of late and was one of few players to complete ninety minutes; something the full-back (and Evertonians) could have done without but his enduring stamina will not stop him bombarding down the right flank come Saturday lunch-time.
Belgium- Kevin Mirallas & Romelu Lukaku
Perhaps Everton’s greatest attacking threat when they arrive at the Emirates on Saturday will be in the form of Lukaku and Mirallas. The latter was the only one to start the game, while ‘The Beast’ watched the Red Devils take a 2-0 lead through ex-Blue Marouane Fellaini and Radja Nainggolan.
Toffees will be delighted to hear that Mirallas’ night was cut short on 64 minutes, while Lukaku replaced Christian Benteke (who was guilty of the best open goal miss since Ronnie Rosenthal) for the final 17 minutes. Didier Drogba pulled one back for Ivory Coast before Wilfried Bony levelled up in injury time.
USA- Tim Howard
Tim has been a regular in the Yoo-Ess-of-Eh? for a number of years now and whilst the international stage can only be good experience for a goalkeeper, it’s usually only the long-haul flight to such an occasion that counts against his involvement (from a selfish Blue-tinted perspective).
The troubled Ukraine managed to find time out from international tensions with Russia to send the USA packing in Cyprus with a 2-0 win. Howard initially did well to try and prevent the two goals, but was let down by his defenders who could not keep out the rebound.
Scotland- Steven Naismith
Scott Brown netted the only goal of a 1-0 win for the Jocks against Poland; a dress-rehearsal for their Euro 2016 qualifying group game later this year.
Steven Naismith entered the fray at half-time with the game in the balance and the nifty forward had a hand in Browns goal with some tidy link up play. If he can help his team put one past Wojciech Szczęsny in Warsaw, then there’s no reason why he can’t do the same in London on Saturday. Maybe from the bench. In the last minute. If there’s no one else.
England U21’s – John Stones
Everton’s only representative at this level, Stones managed the whole 90 minutes in their UEFA Under 21 Championship group games against Wales; Nathan Redmond getting the only goal of the game.
With Stones expecting to start in place of Jagielka on Saturday, a run out for the Young Lions can only do the 19 year-old good. He has looked nothing but composed in his outings at centre-half under Roberto Martinez and another confident performance at the Emirates will add to an already glittering career highlights reel which includes out-Pirlo-ing Andrea Pirlo in a penalty shoot-out. Not bad for a young lad from Barnsley.
Spain U21’s – Gerard Deulofeu
The on-loan winger appeared for the second half in Spain’s 2-0 win over Germany, with goals from Alvaro Morato and Real Madrid’s highly-rated Isco.