International football special: debutants hoping to win their first cap this week

It’s probably fair to say that early season international breaks aren’t all that popular among supporters. Often, fans are left frustrated by international football’s interference in the club calendar which can lead to a disjointedness in in the opening months of any new campaign.

However, as irksome as an international hiatus can be to fans of club football, a clutch of players will hold a different, more positive point of view.

There is a generous dusting of players dreaming of pulling on their country’s colours at senior level for the first time during the current international break, and we’ve profiled a selection of them below.

Whether it’s an exciting young prospect, or a battle-hardened late bloomer forcing his way into setup for the first time, a new face lining up for his country adds an extra layer of excitement to any international fixture.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most interesting uncapped players who could make their international debuts this week:

Remember – we’ll be covering all of the international action in detail over on our football predictions page!


Dominic Calvert-Lewin – England

Everton’s rapidly developing centre-forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been in breath taking form in the opening exchanges of the 2020/21 season. The Toffees frontman has already notched eight goals in just five appearances this season and the 23-year-old looks well on his way to eclipsing his 15-goal haul of last term.

With seven goals in 17 appearances for the Three Lions Under 21’s, Calvert-Lewin has already shown an ability to make an impact on the international stage, and the ex-Sheffield United starlet is certain to see actions against either Wales or Belgium this week.

Harvey Barnes – England

One of four uncapped players in Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad alongside Bukayo Saka, Dean Henderson and the aforementioned Calvert-Lewin, flying Fox Harvey Barnes might feel that his call up is overdue.

The 22-year-old shone consistently in an up and down campaign for Leicester last year, though the versatile wide-attacker’s performance levels have shot up again in the opening weeks of the 2020/21 season.

José Campaña – Spain

Levante midfielder José Campaña received his first call up at the age of 27 earlier this month, in something of a surprise inclusion in Luis Enrique’s Spain squad for La Roja’s games against Switzerland and Ukraine this week.

Campaña had been a regular fixture in Spain’s under age teams, where he was involved from Under 16 right through to Under 21 level, though full honours had seemed beyond him until now. The midfielder, who came through the ranks at Sevilla, had been the very definition of a journeyman in the early parts of his career, turning out for six different clubs before finding stability and a route to national team contention with Levante.

Florian Neuhaus – Germany

Dynamic midfielder Florian Neuhaus is one of the most impressive operators in a youthful Borussia Monchengladbach squad, and the 23-year-old’s performances were recognised this season by Germany boss Joachim Low.

The national team supremo drafted Neuhaus into his squad alongside fellow uncapped Gladbach teammate Jonas Hofmann and ex Die Fohlen start Mahmoud Dahod – who will also be targeting a first Die Mannschaft appearances over the coming week.

Daniel Podence – Portugal

Daniel Podence will hope to make his bow for Portugal against either Spain, France or Sweden before returning to club football with Wolves after the brief international hiatus, and the skilful winger has the tools to make an impact if called upon.

The 24-year-old has been showcasing his creativity in the Premier League so far this season, bagging two assists in three starts during what has been a turbulent opening salvo for Wanderers. With years of national team experience behind him in the country’s youth setup, Podence should be able to hit the ground running if he is given the nod by Fernando Santos.

Matheus Cunha – Brazil

Matheus Cunha has been in superb form since he swapped RB Leipzig for Hertha Berlin in January, and having averaged a goal every other game for Die Alte Dame since the turn of the year, the 21-year-old was rewarded with a call up to Brazil’s senior selection for their fixtures against Bolivia and Peru.

With 14 goals in 16 games for the Seleção’s Under 23’s, Cunha has already shown a nose for the big occasion while wearing his country’s famous yellow shirt, and his transition to the biggest stage of senior international football is expected to be seamless.

Alexis Saelemaekers – Belgium

Alexis Saelemaekers’ rollercoaster year continued earlier this month when the young wide midfielder was handed his first call up to Belgium’s talented squad by Head Coach Roberto Martinez.

Saelemaekers spent his formative years at Anderlecht’s famed academy before he left his homeland in January earlier this year to sign for Italian big-hitters AC Milan. Though the 21-year-old winger is still making inroads in to the first team picture with the Rossoneri since, Saelemaekers’ potential is such, that he has been fast-tracked into the Belgian set-up.

Teun Koopmeiners – Netherlands

The Netherlands begin a new era under former star Frank de Boer this week, and the ex-Ajax midfielder has four uncapped players to call upon for his first games against Mexico, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Italy.

One of the most interesting new arrivals is undoubtedly AZ midfield general Teun Koopmeiners, whose metronomic passing and ability to control the tempo of his team’s games has put him on the radar of a number of Europe’s biggest clubs.

The 22-year-old all-rounder rarely puts a foot or pass wrong in the Eredivisie, though his suitors will be keen to see how he handles the tougher test at international level this week.


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