EFL veteran, Chelsea, Arsenal & Spurs stars among 9 players set for international debuts

A Football League veteran and players from Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham are among those that could be set for their international debuts in the coming days.

Many fans groan and roll their eyes when the international break rolls around, but it can give players some of the proudest milestone moments of their careers.

Here are nine players worth looking out for over the upcoming international breaks.

Curtis Davies

A lovely story, this one. Over 15 years have passed since Davies was called up by Fabio Capello for England duty – though he never made it onto the pitch.

As he sees out the twilight years of his career in League One with Cheltenham Town, a long-awaited opportunity for an international debut has presented itself.

“I’m delighted to formally announce that I will be joining the Sierra Leone national team for their upcoming friendlies,” announced the 38-year-old defender on Twitter.

“I thought the opportunity to represent the country of my father’s birth had passed but I feel very proud and humbled to have received the call.

“It will be a proud moment for me to pull on the shirt of The Leone Stars and make my family in Sierra Leone proud but most of all my dad. He did everything in his power to give me the best chance to become a footballer, so I dedicate this all to him.”

Sierra Leone take on Somalia in a friendly on Monday.

Gift Orban

Nigeria are absolutely stacked with attacking talent.

Bayer Leverkusen’s Victor Boniface has rapidly emerged as a viable alternative to Victor Osimhen, who established himself as one of the best No.9s in world football with his starring role in Napoli’s historic Scudetto last term.

But there’s also Gent striker Orban, who is another prodigiously talented centre-forward worth keeping an eye out for.

The 21-year-old has scored 26 goals in 36 appearances for the Belgian club and is being linked with the likes of Tottenham, Milan and Arsenal.

Malo Gusto

The 20-year-old full-back ought to be well-rested after serving a three-match ban for the straight red card he received against Aston Villa last month.

That hasn’t put off Didier Deschamps, who has given the Chelsea defender his first Les Bleus call-up.

“He is a very young player, but he can play at right-back, he has played as a winger, and he has played at full-back as well. Already at Lyon, he showed great things,” Deschamps said.

“At Chelsea, there is more significant competition, even if he has been helped by an injury to their usual starter (Reece James).

“He has areas of his game to work on, and he knows that he can improve defensively. But he is a young player who already finds himself at Chelsea, and he has potential which promises further progression in the months to come.”

Destiny Udogie

An absolute revelation at Ange Postecoglou’s high-flying Tottenham this season, Udogie is already being talked up as one of the best left-backs in the Premier League.

He offers a lot going forward and has been impressively sound defensively, having held his own up against the likes of Mohamed Salah and Bukayo Saka.

Prior to joining Spurs, Udogie has impressed over the past couple of years in Serie A with Udinese. He’s been a regular at various youth levels for Italy but has only now received his first senior Azzurri call-up.

Expect him to become an important player for Luciano Spalletti. Italy play Malta on Saturday before facing England at Wembley next week.

Eddie Nketiah

England Under-21’s all-time top scorer with 16 goals in 17 games, Nketiah is no stranger to representing his country.

The Arsenal striker received his first senior call-up last month but failed to make it onto the pitch against Ukraine and Scotland.

You wouldn’t expect him to usurp Three Lions captain Harry Kane for the upcoming qualifier against Italy, but he’s surely due a runout in Friday’s friendly against Australia.

Facundo Farias

“I am an aggressive midfielder, front, always forward. I identify with Neymar. I don’t identify with Leo, but he is the idol of all Argentines,” Farias explained when unveiled as an Inter Miami player in August.

The forward, who has also drawn comparisons to Carlos Tevez, plays alongside Argentina’s iconic captain at club level and has now received a call-up to feature on the international stage.

Southampton’s Carlos Alcaraz and Fiorentina’s Lucas Beltran have also been given call-ups for the world champions by Lionel Scaloni.

Yan Couto

The Manchester City starlet is currently spending a third loan stint with sister club Girona.

The 21-year-old right-back is ever-improving and has been an important part of the Catalan club’s spectacular start to the season. They briefly topped the La Liga table and currently sit second, a point and a place ahead of Barcelona.

Couto’s fine form has been rewarded with a first senior Brazil call-up. He’s one of four uncapped players given the nod by Selecao interim coach Fernando Diniz – alongside Botafogo ‘keeper Lucas Perri, Inter left-back Carlos Augusto and Fluminense centre-back Nino.

Bryan Zaragoza

Not only does he possess one of the best names in football right now, but Bryan Zaragoza is also blessed with serious ability.

The 22-year-old Granada forward was a late call-up to Spain’s squad after his sensational performance against Barcelona on Sunday evening.

He scored both goals against Xavi’s men in a 2-2 draw, opening the scoring after just 17 seconds (the fastest goal Barca have ever conceded) before going on a ridiculous solo run for the second.

Zaragoza could become the first Granada player to represent La Roja in almost half a century.

Kevin Behrens

The Union Berlin cult hero has spent the vast majority of his career plugging away in the lower leagues of German football before finally peaking in his thirties.

Behrens kicked off the 2023-24 campaign with his first Bundesliga hat-trick, against Mainz, and has since led the line in Champions League outings against Real Madrid and Braga.

And his remarkable rise just keeps finding new peaks, with a first Germany call-up from new boss Julian Nagelsmann.

The Euro 2024 hosts face the United States and Mexico in their upcoming friendlies.

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