The first international break of the season has concluded and most of the players are back at Melwood training for the game against Leicester at the weekend. The important thing for Reds’ fans is that, though there was a brief scare with Sadio Mané, all of the players have returned unscathed and ready to kick on for Liverpool.
However, in case you weren’t paying attention, several key players went off with their national teams this week to do battle in World Cup and African Cup of Nations qualifying, with varying degrees of success.
The big winner of this international break for Liverpool has to be Adam Lallana, whose last gasp winner against 10-man Slovakia (oh Martin Skrtel) clinched three points in Sam Allardyce’s first game as England manager. Jordan Henderson started the game and was subbed out after 64 minutes, while Daniel Sturridge came on as a substitute for Harry Kane after 82 minutes. Nathaniel Clyne was an unused substitute in the match. England now sit second in the group after the first game.
Sadio Mané played for Senegal in their African Cup of Nations qualifying game and came off injured in what turned out to be a preventative measure. The player is back at Melwood and claims to be “100%” prepared to play this weekend. Senegal beat Namibia 2-0. Senegal have already qualified for the AFCoN back in June and sit at the top of Group K with 18 points.
Philippe Coutinho and Brazil won their two CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers, against Ecuador 3-0 on Thursday and Colombia 2-1 on Tuesday. In both games, Coutinho came on as a substitute at around the 60th minute in both games, so he was thankfully not run into the ground. Coutinho had the hardest international break, with the longest distance to travel and a game in the rain forest of Manaus. The club has made “special arrangements” for Coutinho to arrive back in Liverpool on Thursday morning to give him extra time to train with the team before Saturday’s match.
Georginio Wijnaldum put in 64 minutes for the Netherlands on Tuesday before being subbed out for Bas Dost. Sweden held on against a Dutch onslaught to end the game at 1-1 and steal a point.
Several players traveled with their teams but were unused substitutes in their games. Among those were the Belgian duo of Simon Mignolet and Divock Origi, whose team made easy work of Cyprus to win their first World Cup qualifier 3-0.
The other Liverpool player who didn’t see any action over this week was Dejan Lovren, who sat on the bench as Croatia played out a 1-1 draw against Turkey. The table for Group I is very satisfying to look at if you enjoy symmetry, because all three games ended with the exact same 1-1 scoreline.
So that’s the September international break that all of the Liverpool players survived. The Premier League starts up again on Saturday.