After seeing a number of Everton players on international duty this week it is pleasing to see that our team is built on strong, talented foundations.
Twelve first-team Everton players were selected for their countries, Tim Howard, Nikica Jelavic and Kevin Mirallas to name but a few. This break from Toffees training was a great opportunity for some of the Blues to regain some form and maybe for Jelavic and Mirallas some goalscoring form at that. It was also a chance to break away from the familiar sights of Merseyside and refresh themselves (especially for those who, in the end, didn't play the full 90 minutes for their country).
Firstly, to Belgium , where the home nation took on Slovakia at the Jan Breydel Stadium. Kevin Mirallas started in this one and really took to creating opportunites. He played just over 60 minutes, he didn't score but created some good opportunities out of nothing. Fellaini sat on the bench for the full 90 minutes, which will relieve most fans and certainly David Moyes.
Over to Craven Cottage where Croatia took on South Korea. Jelavic was brought on as a substitute with 20 minutes to go and in that time he managed to notch himself a goal. The goal was taken superbly, a ball played across him which he hit low and hard across the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner. The goal was of the calibre we had begun to expect from the big Croatian last season and will hopefully kick-start a run of goalscoring form.
Across London we go and to Wembley, where Leighton Baines took to the field as a sub in England's 2-1 victory over Brazil. Baines yet again gave a good account of himself, attacking down his wing, linking up with the James Milner infront of him well and supplying clinical crosses into the Brazilians' box. Jagielka was not given any playing time in this one, perhaps to the frustration of many Everton fans, particularly as Gary Cahill looked some what uncomfortable under pressure. Osman was the othe Everton player selected for England but unfortunately for Ossie the players in his position were on very good form. Maybe not so Tom Cleverly but certainly Steven Gerrard and Jack Wilshire.
Heading north and Steven Naismith started for Scotland in their game against Estonia in Aberdeen. It was Gordon Strachan's first game in charge of the national side and he started with a win, Charlie Mulgrew with the only goal of the game.
In CONCACAF World Cup qualifying Tim Howard and his USA team lost 2-1 to Honduras - American Toffees, any feedback on how Tim played? Meanwhile Bryan Oviedo was an unused sub as Costa Rica fought back to draw 2-2 with Panama in Panama City.
To the Under-21 sides and Shane Duffy captained Ireland in a memorable 3-0 victory over the Netherlands while Apostolos Velios set up the goal as Greece Under-21s drew 1-1 with Scotland.
Some of the squad have to travel great distances to play these games and shows the massive amount of hours the key players of our team spend travelling when they are not playing for Everton. Especially for Tim Howard who is a regular for the Blues, but all those miles with the USMNT I imagine will put a strain on his body which I think some fans take for granted.
Hopefully not too much strain has been made on any of our players, and we see a full team for the Mancs on Sunday, for me the biggest game so far of our season.