International Blues Part II
A run-down of our players' second dose of World Cup qualifiers.
The majority of Everton’s World Cup hopefuls find their aspirations of competing in next year’s tournament enhanced after enjoying positive results with their respective nations over the weekend.
Looking ahead, eight members of David Moyes' first-team squad are in contention to feature in the international break’s second round of qualifiers, which take place at various times throughout Tuesday evening and the early hours of Wednesday.
Leighton Baines could continue at left-back for England who are involved in a crucial game away to Montenegro. The Three Lions were comfortable 8-0 winners in San Marino on Friday but face arguably their toughest test so far against the current Group H pace-setters.
A victory would see Roy Hodgson’s side leapfrog Montenegro but defeat would put them five points adrift with four matches left to play.
Leon Osman will also be looking to play some part in the match in Podgorica after making his competitive England debut three days ago.
Aside from England’s chances, Evertonians will also be interested to see how Group A is unraveling, where Belgium and Croatia are currently neck-and-neck in the race for automatic qualification to next summer’s tournament.
Marouane Fellaini played the full 90 minutes and Mirallas was an unused substitute in Belgium’s 2-0 away win over Macedonia on Friday and both will be hoping for a repeat result in the reverse fixture in Brussels on Tuesday evening.
With a Belgium victory expected, Croatia need to ensure they don’t drop points against a resurgent Wales whose hopes have been reignited following the 2-1 win over Scotland. Nikica Jelavic will be pressing for a recall after watching on from the bench in the 2-0 win over Serbia.
Steven Naismith will also be craving some action for Scotland against Serbia after not featuring in the aforementioned loss to Wales - a result which virtually extinguished any chances of Gordon Strachan's men progressing through to the finals.
In Group C, Seamus Coleman is likely to keep his place for the Republic of Ireland who will be targeting maximum points against Austria after the creditable stalemate away to Sweden.
Three points would elevate Giovanni Trapattoni’s side into the play-off spot with second-placed Sweden not in action. However, Austria travel to Dublin in good spirits following a 6-0 hammering of the Faroe Islands on Friday.
Outside of Europe, Bryan Oviedo’s Costa Rica need to give their qualifying campaign a kick-start after slipping to a 1-0 defeat against USA on Saturday.
The CONCACAF format sees the top three from the six-nation group qualify automatically, with fourth competing in a home and away play-off against the winner of the Oceania group to determine who reaches Brazil.
Costa Rica are currently bottom after collecting just one point from their first two games - but they will fancy their chances of getting back on track against Jamaica who have registered two draws to date.
Oviedo could line-up against former Blue Jermaine Beckford, who is expected to spearhead the Reggae Boyz’s attack in San Jose.
Tim Howard - currently sidelined with a back problem - will be keeping a watchful eye on USA's game against Mexico. Victory at the Azteca would send Jurgen Klinsmann's team top of the CONCACAF group, should Honduras fail to beat Panama.