Nine West Ham United players have been called-up by their respective countries for the March international break.
Vladimír Coufal, Łukasz Fabiański, Jesse Lingard, Declan Rice, Tomáš Souček, Andriy Yarmolenko and Conor Coventry kick-off their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaigns, while Saïd Benrahma is involved in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying, and Frederik Alves is on Denmark U21 duty
The eight European players each have three matches to play, but Benrahma has just one qualifier.
Where and when are our Hammers in action?
Let’s kick-off in Africa, where Benrahma is in the Algeria squad for a home Africa Cup of Nations Group H qualifier with Botswana on Monday 29 March. The attacking midfielder cannot travel to Zambia for a fixture on Thursday 25 March due to COVID-19 restrictions meaning he cannot enter the UK for ten days after visiting the country.
Algeria are top of Group H with ten points from four matches played and have already qualified for the finals, which will be hosted by Cameroon in January 2022. The Desert Foxes are five points ahead of Zimbabwe and six ahead of Botswana. Zambia are bottom with just a single point.
In Europe, eight Hammers will start their campaigns to qualify for next summer’s FIFA World Cup finals in Qatar. COVID-19 restrictions mean some matches are being played in unusual venues.
Coufal, Souček and Czech Republic travel to Lublin in Poland to face Estonia in their opening Group E fixture on Wednesday 24 March, before heading home to Prague to host Belgium on Saturday 27 March and completing a busy week with a trip to Cardiff to face Wales on Tuesday 30 March.
Vladimír Coufal in action for Czech Republic
Fabiański’s Poland and Lingard and Rice’s England are both in Group I. There, Poland travel to Budapest to tackle Hungary, while England welcome San Marino to Wembley on Thursday 25 March. On Sunday 28 March, Poland host Andorra in Warsaw, while England make the trip to Tirana to take on Albania. Then, on Wednesday 31 March, the Hammers’ nations meet at Wembley.
Yarmolenko and Ukraine are in Group D, where they begin with an away tie with France in Paris on Wednesday 24 March. From there, they head back to Kiev to host Finland on Sunday 28 March, before welcoming Kazakhstan to their capital city on Wednesday 31 March.
Darren Randolph misses Republic of Ireland’s opening Group A fixtures, but midfielder Conor Coventry could make his senior debut after being added to Stephen Kenny’s squad. Ireland travel to Belgrade to face Serbia on Wednesday 24 March, before welcoming Luxembourg to Dublin on Saturday 27 March. World Cup hosts Qatar then provide the opposition for a friendly in Hungary on Tuesday 30 March.
Finally, Alves and Denmark are in action at the 2021 UEFA European Championship finals, which are being held in different stages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The group stage is split between Hungary and Slovenia this month, with the knockout phase being hosted by the same nations in June.
Denmark are in Group C in Hungary, where they take on France on Thursday 25 March in Szombathely, then Iceland in Győr on Sunday 28 March, and finally Russia in Szombathely on Wednesday 31 March. The top two nations in each of the four groups go through to the quarter-finals.
Of our Academy youngsters, Michael Forbes is in the Northern Ireland U19 squad for a training camp in Belfast, while Jacob Knightbridge and Divin Mubama are in the England U17 squad for a training camp at St George’s Park.
How can I watch them?
England’s three matches, including their meeting with Poland, will be shown by ITV in the UK.
Poland’s two other ties and the games involving the Czech Republic, Republic of Ireland and Ukraine will be broadcast by Sky Sports.
Neither Algeria Africa Cup of Nations tie nor Denmark U21s’ games will be broadcast live in the UK.