Eight players who could win their first caps: Hudson-Odoi, Neres, Zaniolo…
The international break is not always welcomed by supporters, but several of this season’s breakout stars are hoping to be honoured with their first caps over the next week or so.
South American managers are continuing to experiment in friendlies ahead of this summer’s Copa America, while in Europe, things are gearing up towards Euro 2020 with the first round of qualifiers.
We’ve picked out some potential future stars, and some who have been patiently biding their time, who could be making their first senior international appearances.
Callum Hudson-Odoi – England
The 18-year-old is set to be fast-tracked straight to the senior team, bypassing Aidy Boothroyd’s Under-21s, after last-minute vacancies opened up in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the Euro 2020 qualifiers.
There’s been a clamour among Chelsea fans for the talented forward to get more minutes, with Maurizio Sarri yet to hand him a start in the league.
He’s taken his opportunities when given them so far, scoring against Dynamo Kyiv despite being only given the final 12 minutes at Stamford Bridge, before adding another goal and assist when given a start in the second leg.
West Ham’s Declan Rice, who has three non-competitive Ireland caps, could also be set for a Three Lions debut.
Ohh Hudson Odoi 🎵
Ohh Hudson Odoi🎵
Ohh Hudson Odoi🎵
— Momax Sport (@Mosesmomax) March 14, 2019
Sergio Canales – Spain
Once touted as the next big thing, Canales has had to be patient for his first senior call-up.
Bought as a teenager by Real Madrid in 2010, he never quite made a breakthrough under Jose Mourinho and had horrible luck with injuries.
Having featured at every level of Spain’s youth ranks between 2007 and 2013, he’s finally set for a senior debut at 28. The central midfielder has been an important part of the possession-heavy, passing football instilled by Quique Setién at Real Betis this season.
Alongside Canales, Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz, Getafe’s on-fire striker Jaime Mata, and Sevilla defender Sergi Gomez could all be due international debuts as Spain manager Luis Enrique has shuffled his pack.
Germany – Lukas Klostermann
Jogi Loew caused shockwaves in Germany when he told World Cup winners Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Thomas Muller that he would never call them up again for the national team.
He’s looking to the next generation, with Manuel Neuer the only player over 30 in his latest squad, although Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz is the only player under the age of 22.
Midfielders Niklas Stark from Hertha Berlin and Maximilian Eggestein from Werder Bremen have also been brought in for potential debuts, but right-back Lukas Klostermann is really the one to watch.
He’s been a key component of RB Leipzig’s stubborn backline this season – they’ve conceded seven fewer goals than any other Bundesliga team.
David Neres – Brazil
The 22-year-old Ajax prospect has had to wait a short while for his Brazil debut.
After appearing off the bench in the 2017 Europa League final, he really broke through in the 2017-18 season with 14 goals in 32 appearances.
But there could be no more ignoring Neres when he scored Ajax’s second in their remarkable 4-1 win over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, providing the finishing touch to Dusan Tadic’s unbelievable run through midfield.
Porto defender Alex Telles is also set for an international debut, while his team-mate Militao – who has just signed for Real Madrid for €50million – is due his second cap and could be a future mainstay in the backline.
West Ham’s Felipe Anderson, who played for just seven minutes as a substitute in a 2015 friendly, has also been recalled.
David Neres vai chegar como na seleção! pic.twitter.com/Ltrqh0l7h2
— Zero a Zero (@ZER0aZER0) March 11, 2019
Portugal – Diogo Jota
The Wolves man has five goals and three assists in his last nine games, including the decisive second to knock Manchester United out of the FA Cup, and simply couldn’t be overlooked for Portugal.
He’s just the second Portuguese player to score a Premier League hat-trick after Cristiano Ronaldo, who he will now be playing alongside – the national team’s all-time top scorer and captain has returned to the squad after sitting out their Nations League games.
Jota will also be joining up with his Wolves team-mates Rui Patricio, Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves, while Benfica’s highly-rated 19-year-old striker Joao Felix is also set for a debut.
Ukraine – Junior Moraes
Ukraine manager Andriy Shevchenko has been crying out for a centre-forward with even an eighth of his ability in front of goal, with the choice of Ukrainian-born options in the striking department currently pretty shallow.
With the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign underway, the long-term injury to Andriy Yarmolenko and loss of form suffered by Yevhen Konoplyanka has forced Ukraine to get creative when it comes to goalscorers.
Junior Moraes, 31, was born in Santos to a Brazilian family but is eligible to play for Ukraine having played there since 2012 and has just secured a passport, following in the footsteps of his Shakhtar Donetsk team-mate Marlos.
The forward has 15 goals in 18 games this season.
Italy – Nicolo Zaniolo
Roma have struggled this season and sporting director Monchi soon followed Eusebio Di Francesco out of the exit door after they were dumped out of the Champions League by Porto.
But Monchi might have a point when he angrily told fans the club would be better in the long-term, at least where the signing of Nicolo Zaniolo is concerned.
The 19-year-old has been a revelation so far this season, scoring twice in the first leg against Porto, after a gloriously cheeky first goal for the club when he sat two players down before chipping the pair of them.
Denmark – Jacob Bruun Larsen
Jadon Sancho isn’t the only Dortmund youngster garnering attention this season.
Larsen, a 20-year-old left winger, has become a first-team option for Lucien Favre this season after impressing in pre-season, notably by scoring four goals in one game in a friendly against lower league side Osnabrueck.
His pace and willingness to run the channels should delight Christian Eriksen, who will inevitably look to find him with his trademark through-balls.