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International round-up: Big wins for Xhaka, Hein

Granit Xhaka playing for Switzerland against Spain

It was a weekend to remember for both Karl Hein and Granit Xhaka, as they helped their countries to important wins in the UEFA Nations League.

Hein helped Estonia claim promotion to League C following a 2-1 win against Malta, when the young shot-stopper won his 15th cap in Tallinn.

Henri Anier’s goal four minutes from time saw the hosts claim the victory and top spot in the group with one game to spare, which will see them head to San Marino on Monday.

Meanwhile, in League A Xhaka captained Switzerland to a 2-1 away win against Spain to inflict their opponents' first home defeat in four years, and end their 22-match unbeaten run in the process.

Our midfielder featured for the full game in Zaragoza which was decided by Breel Embolo’s winner, and now leaves the Swiss needing to avoid defeat against the Czech Republic on Tuesday to avoid the drop.

In action tonight will be England, who will be looking to bounce back from Friday’s 1-0 loss to Italy in Milan which saw them relegated from League A.

Having been named England’s Player of the Year for 2021/22, Bukayo Saka played 71 minutes before being replaced by Jack Grealish, and both he and Aaron Ramsdale will be eying up one final opportunity to impress before the World Cup when Gareth Southgate’s side take on Germany at Wembley.

Injury returns and concerns

Martin Odegaard playing for Norway against Slovenia

Martin Odegaard returned from injury by playing 71 minutes of Norway’s 2-1 away defeat to Slovenia, but their hopes of Nations League qualification are still in their hands.

After Erling Haaland had given the visitors the lead, goals from Andraz Sporar and Benjamin Sesko turned the game around and leaves Norway facing a crunch game with second-placed Serbia on Tuesday, however should they avoid defeat Odegaard’s team will claim promotion to League A.

The same goes for Kieran Tierney's Scotland, but he was forced off after 42 minutes of their comeback win against the Republic of Ireland with a head injury.

Ryan Christie’s late penalty sealed a 2-1 win for the hosts at Hampden Park, and means that Steve Clarke’s team just need a draw in Ukraine on Tuesday to clinch promotion to the top tier, but Tierney will be missing as a precaution.

Another player who suffered a setback was Thomas Partey, who pulled out of Ghana’s 3-0 friendly defeat to Brazil after picking up an injury in the warm-up in Le Havre and will miss the Black Stars’ subsequent friendly with Nicaragua.

Turner and Tomiyasu tussle

Takehiro Tomiyasu and Matt Turner playing for Japan and the USA

Takehiro Tomiyasu came out on the winning side as he went up against Matt Turner's USA in a friendly in Dusseldorf, and played all 90 minutes of Japan’s win which could have been by a larger margin had Turner not pulled off a string of good saves.

William Saliba played the first 45 minutes of France’s disappointing 2-0 defeat to Denmark on Sunday night, but Le Bleu’s victory over Austria earlier in the week ensured they avoided relegation after the Austrian’s defeat to group winners Croatia.

Our young defender won his seventh cap for his country in Copenhagen but goals from Kasper Dolberg and Andreas Skov Olsen meant that the current holders of the Nations League finished with just five points from their six group games.

Patino on target

Charlie Patino joins Blackpool on loan

At youth level, Charlie Patino netted his first goal for England’s under-20 side in their 2-1 win against Morocco on Saturday.

The midfielder got himself on the scoresheet during the friendly in Spain, when on 27 minutes the on-loan Blackpool man saw a shot from the edge of the area take a deflection and find the net.

Patino played 71 minutes of the encounter before being replaced, and will hope to see further gametime on Tuesday when England take on Australia in their final game of the international break.

Three more of our academy members also got a taste of international action, with Amario Cozier-Duberry coming on for the final 10 minutes of England under-18s’ 2-0 win against the Faroe Islands in Spain.

At under-17 level, Ethan Nwaneri and Myles Lewis-Skelly started their 3-0 win against Czech Republic in Poland on Friday. Our recent first-team debutant played 84 minutes, while Lewis-Skelly was replaced just after the hour-mark, and have further opportunities to impress in two further Syrenka Cup matches over the coming days.

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