Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.
It’s fair to say that early season international breaks aren’t unanimously welcomed by 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.
It’s an opinion echoed by Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp, who labelled the UEFA Nations League “the most senseless competition in the world of football” just this week.
However, as irksome as an international hiatus can be to club football fans and managers, there is a band of players who hold an entirely different point of view.
There is a generous sprinkling of footballers dreaming of pulling on their country’s colours at senior level for the first time during this international break.
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 waiting to make their international debuts this week:
Hélder Costa – Portugal
Wolves winger Hélder Costa was called up to the Portugal senior squad for their games against Poland and Scotland this week. The 24-year old attacking midfielder has represented his country from U16 right up to U23 level, and now his transition to the senior team looks imminent. Costa will be among familiar company in the Portuguese squad with Wolves’ teammates Rui Patricio and Ruben Neves also selected by Head Coach Fernando Santos.
Kristoffer Peterson – Sweden
23-year old left winger Kristoffer Peterson has been earning rave reviews for his performances in the Eredivisie for Heracles this season. The former Liverpool Academy starlet has scored 8 goals in 8 league games from the left-hand side so far in 2018/19 and Peterson tops the goalscoring charts in the Dutch top flight. His explosive displays earned him his first call up to the Swedish senior team this month and Peterson is likely to feature against Russia and Slovakia.
Jadon Sancho – England
18-year old wide attacker Jadon Sancho has been making the most of every chance handed to him at Borussia Dortmund. Sancho has scored once and racked up 6 assists in just 215 minutes of Bundesliga action this season. Remarkably, the Manchester City youth team graduate has only started once for Dortmund in the league in 2018/19, further emphasizing just how productive he’s been for Die Borussen. The incredibly gifted youngster is line in to make his senior England debut against either Croatia or Spain this week, along with fellow uncapped players James Maddison of Leicester City, Mason Mount of Derby and Brighton’s Lewis Dunk.
Denzel Dumfries – Netherlands
PSV Eindhoven’s flying fullback Denzel Dumfries was drafted into the Netherlands senior squad by Ronald Koeman this week along with uncapped club teammates Pablo Rosario and Steven Bergwijn. Dumfries had represented Aruba at senior international level in 2014, though he only played a couple of friendly matches for the Caribbean nationa before switching allegiances to the Netherlands 2 years later. It’s been a huge few months for Dumfries, who only joined Dutch champions PSV over the summer from Heerenveen to replace Atletico Madrid bound right back Santiago Arias.
Mark Uth – Germany
27-year old attacker Mark Uth was something of a surprise call up for Germany this week. Uth joined current club Schalke 04 on a free transfer this summer having enjoyed a fabulous season for Hoffenheim in 2017/18. However, Uth has struggled to make an impact in Gelsenkirchen and he has yet to register a single goal for the Die Königsblauen. Last week, Uth put in his best performance of the season in Schalke 04’s 1-0 win against Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League and his display in Russia that evening is likely to have impressed Joachim Low.
Nicolò Barella – Italy
Technically gifted midfielder Nicolò Barella was first called up to the Italian senior national team around a year ago for the country’s World Cup qualifiers against Macedonia and Albania. The Cagliari youngster didn’t feature in either game, though he is expected to finally don the Azzurri blue at senior level against either Ukraine or Poland this week. The 21-year old was heavily linked with a move to Liverpool over the summer and this is expected to be Barella’s last season in a Cagliari shirt.
Tanguy Ndombele – Lyon
Manchester City supporters will be fully familiar with the burgeoning talents of Lyon midfielder Tanguy Ndombele. The immensely gifted 21-year old combines a silky touch with effortless running power at Lyon’s centre and having amassed 11 caps at U21 level for Les Bleus over the past year, Ndombele has finally forced his way into the senior reckoning. Rumours suggest that both Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur are monitoring Ndombele’s progress, though its thought that Lyon would demand a fee close to £70m for his services.
Joe Rodon – Swansea City
New Wales Manager Ryan Giggs has already shown that he is willing to give youth a chance at senior international level and Swansea City’s Joe Rodon looks set to be the latest starlet to be given an opportunity to shine this week. Rodon, who turns 21 later this month, has enjoyed a terrific few months at centre back for the Swans in the Championship. Rodon was drafted into the Wales squad to replace injured Newcastle defender Paul Dummett, though he has all the tools to impress against Spain and the Republic of Ireland.
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