Stars from Chelsea, Arsenal, Newcastle, Brighton and Barcelona are among those that could be set to enjoy a proud career milestone in the coming fortnight – their international debuts.
Powerhouses including Brazil, Italy, England, Germany and Argentina have called up players for the first time with a view to handing them their first caps in their upcoming qualifiers and friendlies.
Here are nine players worth looking out for over the upcoming international breaks.
The Arsenal striker is no stranger to representing his country, having made over 35 appearances for the Young Lions from Under-18 to Under-21 level. In fact, he’s the Under-21s’ all-time top scorer with 16 goals in 17 games.
Gareth Southgate used to coach the Under-21s and has spoken of his belief in the pathway from the youth set-up to his senior squad, so this opportunity was a long time coming.
“It’s the pinnacle of recognition for a player that represents England, so I’m really happy to be there and looking forward to meeting up with the boys,” Nketiah said after his first call-up.
📞 Record breaker 📞
Eddie Nketiah is @England U21s record goalscorer!
1️⃣4️⃣ goals in 1️⃣2️⃣ games 🔥 pic.twitter.com/NLdJFfOcHs
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) October 13, 2020
The other first-time call-up in Southgate’s Three Lions squad is Chelsea defender Colwill. It was only a matter of time before he’d make his debut after the starring role he played in the Under-21s’ European Championship triumph in the summer.
The 20-year-old shone on loan at Brighton last term and now looks to be an important part of Mauricio Pochettino’s plans at Stamford Bridge.
“He has the ability to defend the box well like any young defender,” said Southgate.
“He showed a really good temperament in the League last year, and in the summer with the Under-21s he was outstanding.”
Born and raised in Tyneside and a product of the famous Wallsend Boys Club that developed the likes of Michael Carrick and Alan Shearer, Anderson qualifies for Scotland through his grandmother.
Anderson is yet to score for boyhood club Newcastle but received rave reviews for his performances in pre-season and is expected to play more of a first-team role for Eddie Howe’s Magpies this season.
The 20-year-old midfielder has represented both England and Scotland – although mostly the latter – at youth level and has had the call from Steve Clarke for the senior set-up.
“He had a little think about choosing between Scotland and England,” said Clarke.
“We had some good discussions with the boy and his family and he has chosen to come with us, which is good for us now and certainly good for us in the future.”
Ange Postecoglou’s new-look Spurs have started the 2023-24 campaign in impressive fashion. Not only has the Australian coach rekindled the form of players he inherited but new faces have immediately hit the ground running.
Chief among them is Hugo Lloris’ successor between the sticks, Vicario. The Italian ‘keeper caught the eye at Empoli last season and has enjoyed a fine start to his Premier League career, rewarded with an international call-up by new Azzurri boss Luciano Spalletti.
Vicario may not usurp Gianluigi Donnarumma just yet, but he’s worth keeping an eye on. Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon has joined Spalletti’s coaching staff and advice from the World Cup winner ought to prove valuable.
La Masia’s latest wonderkid could have represented Equatorial Guinea or Morocco, but Spain have acted fast to tie down Yamal’s future.
“I have always played with Spain, since the under-15s,” Yamal said.
“I have always had it clear, I want to play with Spain. Win a European Championship, a World Cup and everything that is possible.”
The 16-year-old looks the real deal.
At the other end of the spectrum is experienced Brighton utility man Gross, who had just started out in Hoffenheim’s youth team when Yamal was born in 2007.
The 32-year-old has racked up almost 450 appearances in his club career and has just received his first Germany call-up – 12 years after last playing for their Under-21s.
Richly-deserved for a player that just seems to get better and better at Brighton.
A relatively lesser-known name, but one we have a feeling you’ll be hearing much more of in the coming years.
The Argentinian forward signed for Fiorentina for €20million from River Plate in the summer and looks like he could be an exciting addition to Serie A.
Lionel Scaloni has called up Beltran, who could make his debut for the world champions in their upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Bolivia.
An interesting one, this. Cremaschi is one of a number of Inter Miami players who has massively benefitted from Messi’s arrival.
The midfielder was born and raised in Miami, Florida to Argentinian parents and is eligible to represent either national team – but it looks like he won’t be playing alongside Messi at international level, having been called up by USMNT for their upcoming friendlies against Uzbekistan and Oman.
“Not easy [to pick which nation he ought to represent], but not thinking about it right now,” the 18-year-old told TUDN USA last month.
“I’ve been in contact with both federations and know it’s a decision I eventually have to make, but there’s time. I’ve spoken about it with [Lionel] Messi, he has asked me and I love Argentina.”
Cremaschi’s best moment to date was receiving this absolutely ludicrous pass from Messi before giving it back to assist the Argentina captain.
Surprisingly enough, Gabriel is yet to make his Brazil debut.
The Arsenal defender was part of Brazil’s Olympic squad back in 2021 but was forced to withdraw due to injury and hasn’t received a senior call-up since – until now.
Interim head coach Fernando Diniz selected the 25-year-old centre-back alongside his Gunners team-mates Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus.
The Selecao kick off their World Cup qualification campaign with fixtures against Bolivia and Peru.