Happy and healthy? How Sunderland's international stars will return to Wearside
Simon Grayson has prayed for the fitness of eight first teamers away on international duty this week.
But can the Sunderland boss also hope for the men away with their countries returning to club action with confidence restored?
Didier Ndong, Bryan Oviedo, Lamine Kone, John O’Shea, Aiden McGeady, Jonathan Williams, Adam Matthews and Joel Asoro were all called up.
But will they return to the Stadium of Light happy as well as healthy? Here’s how the Black Cats’ international brigade have performed so far.
Didier Ndong (Gabon)
The midfielder played the full game as his nation’s World Cup hopes were ended by Morocco. Gabon lost 3-0 courtesy of a Khalid Boutaib hat-trick in Casablanca on Saturday. Ndong may play again tomorrow when Gabon face France in a friendly in Paris.
Bryan Oviedo (Costa Rica)
The full-back played 90 minutes in his country’s dramatic 1-1 draw against Honduras, which secured Costa Rica’s place at next summer’s tournament. Kendall Watson's stoppage time header earned Costa Rica the point they needed to advance from the North/Central America/Caribbean region with one fixture remaining. Oviedo is expected to feature in his nation’s final game against Panama tomorrow.
Lamine Kone (Ivory Coast)
Kone was an unused substitute in Ivory Coast’s goalless draw away in Mali. The result sets up a winner-takes- all clash between Ivory Coast and Morocco in November.
Aiden McGeady and John O’Shea (Republic of Ireland)
McGeady and O’Shea both sat out the Republic’s crucial qualifiers against Moldova and Wales. Two victories saw Martin O’Neill’s men secure a two-legged play-off in November, followinga 1-0 victory over Wales in Cardiff.
Jonathan Williams and Adam Matthews (Wales)
Williams didn’t play in Wales’ victory over Georgia on Friday evening but was called into action against the Republic of Ireland last night. The 24-year- old midfielder replaced the injured Joe Allen in the first half, but James McClean’s strike ended Welsh hopes of qualifying for Russia. Adam Matthews didn’t feature in either game for Chris Coleman’s side.
Joel Asoro (Sweden Under-21s)
The young striker came off the bench in the 74 th minute as Sweden’s Under-21 side drew 1-1 with Belgium Under-21s. Asoro could feature in Sweden’s qualifier at home to Malta Under-21s.