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International Round-Up

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Well, today is the day plenty of Liverpool fans will dread. Frankly, the thought that one of our first-teamers could pick up an injury whilst away on international duty is worrying, but with the sheer number of players away, it is increasingly likely.

Pepe Reina is away with Spain, and after last month's appearance in the friendly with Greece, there is a possibility he may start for the Spaniards. Spain are away to Iceland today and host Latvia on Wednesday. Those two games should bring Spain six points, but you never know, as they have messed it up in the past. I hope they do, as my very own Northern Ireland sit a point ahead of the Spanish today, and any slip-ups would be very helpful.
Our back-up goalkeepers, Charles Itandje and David Martin, were either too old for the U-21s (Itandje) or out of contention for now (Martin). Scott Carson (loaned out to Aston Villa) is however in the England squad for the home games against Israel and Russia. He was a dark horse to take the jersey for the matches, until McLaren restored his blind faith in Paul Robinson.

Steve Finnan was to be on duty with Ireland until he got injured. Jamie Carragher is injured, but Steve McLaren appears to have recognised his decision to quit international football. Daniel Agger's talent has not gone unnoticed (ed-uhuh, naturally), and he is set to be the Danes' number one defender for the match away to Sweden today. However, confidence is low in the Danish camp, after the 4-0 loss to Ireland last month. John Arne Riise, as usual, is in the Norwegian squad and should play for them today in Chisinau and next week against Greece in Oslo. Four points from those games against Moldova and Greece would do the Norwegians nicely. Alvaro Arbeloa has been left out of the Spain squad, good news for us, I can't see why with the form he's in. Sami Hyypia is also a certain starter for Finland's matches against Serbia and Poland.

Harry Kewell still ain't fit enough for the Aussie squad. Steven Gerrard is going to threaten serious harm to his toe by playing Israel today. This could put him out of the Liverpool side for weeks. However, we can always hope that this story is true and that he won't need painkillers. Yossi Benayoun will play against England for Israel today. Xabi Alonso has been called up for Spain, and Aragones has stated he may be in line for a rare start against Iceland. Jermaine Pennant, whilst he should be in the England squad (albeit not playing as I have said), he isn't and so gains valuable resting time. Ryan Babel may well start Holland's vital games at home to Bulgaria and away to Albania on the back of his excellent form. Unfortunately, Javier Mascherano has had to travel thousands of miles for a friendly against Australia. This ludicrous match means that he is unlikely to play next weekend for the Reds, even if the Tuesday kick-off is slightly more advantageous for the European players. Sebastien Leto has thankfully been left out. Lucas Leiva has also been left out of the Brazil squad, despite his appearance in the squad for last month's Algeria friendly. This is good for us, as we don't really want him to suffer jetlag as a result of the trip to the USA.

Fernando Torres has shook off a knee problem and should play for Spain. Peter Crouch is banned for the Israel game, but should start against Russia on Wednesday in place of former Red Emile Heskey. Dirk Kuyt may play for Holland, but with the return of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Babel's fine form and some fitness concerns, that is not definite. Andriy Voronin is likely to start up front for Ukraine against Scotland and the Faroe Islands as their top striker.

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