Plenty of Fulham were players were in action over the last couple of nights for their national sides – and it seems as though Roy Hodgson’s been lucky as there aren’t any reports of any injuries.
I saw Chris Smalling play for the England under-21s yesterday afternoon and there’s no doubt he’s still got some way to go. This report lays the ball for the Greek second goal firmly at his door and it was certainly a disappointing error. The 2-1 defeat leaves England five points behind the Greeks in their qualifying group with only the top team guaranteed to make it into the play-offs. Stuart Pearce has his work cut out.
It was a more happy time for Stefano Okaka, who scored as Italy’s under-21 side beat Hungary in Rieti. The on-loan striker earned some high praise from coach Pierliugi Casaraghi:
We’re sorted with Okaka and Balotelli up front. They are two excellent players who can really lift up the team. They looked good in training and really impressed me.
Damien Duff and Stephen Kelly started at the Emirates on Tuesday as the Republic of Ireland put in a spirited performance despite a 2-0 defeat by Brazil. Duff saw a good shot well saved and the Irish were unfortunate to be behind to an own goal from Keith Andrews right on the stroke of half time.
Two of their team-mates were involved in Norway’s 1-0 win over Slovakia. Brede Hangeland and Bjorn Helge Riise started the friendly, but both were substituted well before the end. Simon Davies made his first appearance for Wales in more than a year as John Toshack’s side were beaten 1-0 by Sweden in Swansea.
Andranik represented Iran in their 1-0 Asian Cup win over Thailand and Australia also qualified for the finals last night, which means Fulham could lose the services of Mark Schwarzer later on. At under-19 level, Wesley Foderingham and Matthew Briggs, who captained the side and made the first goal, represented England in their 1-1 draw with Holland on Tuesday night.