Steven Naismith kicked-off the international action for Everton players with a second half substitute appearance for Scotland in a 1-0 friendly win over Northern Ireland at Hampden Park on Wednesday. Defender Christophe Berra headed home a late winner for Gordon Strachan’s side in a match of few chances.
On Friday Leighton Baines played the full 90 minutes as England eased to a 4-0 win over Lithuania in European Championship qualifying at Wembley. Ross Barkley came on for Jordan Henderson with 19 minutes left while defender Phil Jagielka was an unused substitute.
The win maintains England’s 100% record in Group E and puts then six points ahead of Slovenia in second. Even at this early stage it looks like the Three Lions can prepare for a summer trip to France next year.
Baines has subsequently returned to Everton after picking up a knock and will miss England’s friendly in Italy on Tuesday. Jagielka and Barkley have remained with the squad though and should expect some more game time in Turin.
Luke Garbutt and John Stones both made substitute appearances on Friday as England U21s beat Czech Republic U21s 1-0 in Prague.
Muhamed Besic also started for Bosnia against Andorra. Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko scored a hat-trick as Bosnia eased to a comfortable win. On the same evening Belgium – minus the injured Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku – thrashed Cyprus 5-0.
Wales currently top Group B by two points from Israel with Belgium one point further back – though either of those sides could go back to the top with a when they meet on Monday evening. Bosnia have an uphill task of they are to make it to France next year. They are second bottom with just one win from their opening five games.
In the U19 fixtures on Saturday Brendan Galloway played the full game for England U19s against Azerbaijan with Russell Griffiths and unused sub. Harry Charlsey also played the whole game for Republic Of Ireland U19s in their thrilling 3-2 defeat to Germany while young goalkeeper Jindrich Stanek played in Czech Republic’s 3-0 defeat to Slovakia.
On Sunday Naismith was in action again, this time from the start as Scotland played qualifying newcomers Gibraltar. The Everton man was among the scorers as the Scots comfortably won 6-1 – though only after Gibraltar shocked Hampden Park with their first ever international goal to make it 1-1 on 19 minutes.
Later that day James McCarthy, Seamus Coleman and Aiden McGeady all started for Republic of Ireland against Poland. McGeady eventually came off after 68 minutes at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin with Coleman and McCarthy playing the full 90 minutes. It took a 91st minute Shane Long goal to salvage a point for Martin O’Neill’s men, just reward for a much improved second half performance.
In what looks like to be a closely contested group D, Scotland are third at the halfway point, level on points with Germany in second and a point behind leaders Poland. Ireland are fourth on eight points, two points behind Scotland and five a head of Georgia.