The Hammers August & September International Round-up

West Ham United

As attentions finally turn back to the Premier League season, it’s now time to check in with our international Hammers and see how they fared on their World Cup Qualifying adventures during the Break.

Europe

No fewer than seven first-team members were in action on the continent over last seven days, with the race to Russia 2018 nearing its conclusion.

Wales’ James Collins was a pivotal part of the nation’s incredible run at the European Championship in France last year. But was an unused substitute as Ben Woodburn gave Chris Coleman’s men a vital 1-0 victory over Austria last week.

In that same match in Cardiff, winger Marko Arnautovic played the full 90 minutes for his side as they slumped to a damaging defeat.

Match day eight of Group D saw the Welsh sail to a 0-2 victory in Moldova, but “Ginger Pele” was not part of the squad that made the trip to Chisinau as they triumphed thanks to goals from Hal Robson-Kanu and Aaron Ramsey.

Whereas, Arnautovic’s Austria’s hopes of progressing took a major blow after being held in Vienna by Georgia, with the no.7 getting another full game under his belt ahead of his London Stadium bow.

Our young midfielder Edimilson Fernandes was called up to the Swiss to maintain his regular midfield place for his country’s two qualifiers.

The starlet made a substitute appearance in the 3-0 victory over Andorra, replacing Admir Mehmedi on 74 minutes in St Gallen last week.

However, there would be no cameo appearance for Fernandes as Vladimir Petkovic’s men made it back to back 3-0 wins in Latvia, the 21-year-old will now be eyeing a World Cup debut as his side raced three points clear in Group B.

Our English defensive duo of keeper Joe Hart and full-back Aaron Cresswell joined up with Gareth Southgate’s England side for qualifiers against Malta and Slovakia, either side of the weekend.

Unfortunately, Cresswell was an unused substitute for both encounters, failing to make his third Three Lions appearance.

But, Hart managed to hold his no.1 spot in the 0-4 victory on the continent and back at Wembley for the edgy 2-1 defeat of Jan Kozak’s Slovakia.

Yet another defender, in the form of Jose Fonte, was in action for his native Portugal over the past week.

The no.4 played a relatively untroubled defensive part on the 5-1 thrashing of The Faroe Islands last Thursday but had to settle for a place on Fernando Santos’ bench in the away triumph over Hungary.

Finally, our new signing, young Montenegrin Sead Haksabanovic, was an unused substitute for Montenegro as they beat Kazakhstan and Romania to enhance their hopes of reaching Russia 2018 from Group E.

Africa

Three Hammers made the trip to the Continent of Africa for their Bracket of World Cup Qualifying, as a defender, a midfielder and a forward all traveled to their respective Nations.

Left-back Arthur Masuaku was delighted to receive his first International call up for DR Congo, as the French born star recently pledged footballing allegiance to the country.

However, Masuaku did not feature for his nation of origin as their stable looking hopes of reaching were shattered by a loss and draw to Tunisia.

Elsewhere in Africa, our Senegalese powerhouse Cheikhou Kouyate captained his side to two draws in their double header with Burkina Faso.

Kouyate and The Lions are now one point off Burkina and the Cape Verde Islands in Group D, but the outlook is bleak for Ghana and our tricky forward Andre Ayew as they sit far from the top spot in Group E.

The former Swansea City man was a prominent figure in the home draw with Congo but did not feature as his Black Stars ran out 1-5 winners in the reverse fixture last night, due to traveling back to London.

North, Central America, And Caribbean

Mexico all-time leading goal scorer Javier Hernandez was our only player making the trip to North America for World Cup duties, with two very significant qualifiers on the schedule.

Chicharito played a pivotal role as El Tri secured their place at Russia 2018 with a 1-0 home win over Panama, but was an unused substitute in this morning’s 1-1 draw with Costa Rica.

South America

Our Argentine playmaker Manuel Lanzini was set to feature in the South American bracket of qualifying but was forced to pull out of Jorge Sampaoli’s squad with a knee injury.

Youth Internationals

As well as the large quota of senior squad members on international duty, a high number of Academy stars have also been in action over the past week.

The Irish quartet of Conor Coventry, Anthony Scully, Josh Cullen and Declan Rice have all impressed in the various structures of The Republic’s youth structures during the break.

Coventry and Scully aided the U19’s to successive 2-1 friendly victories over The Czech Republic in the first few days of this month, with the former grabbing a goal from the penalty spot during the second tie in Waterford.

Whereas, both Cullen, the skipper, and first-teamer under Slaven Bilic Rice started for The U21’s in a European Championship Qualifying victory over Azerbaijan in Baku.

Terry Westley’s U23 keeper Nathan Trott witnessed much of England’s U19’s victory at The Euro’s in Georgia from the bench but was finally given a debut for The U20’s over the weekend.

Trott was awarded a start by Keith Downing in the 3-0 thrashing over the Dutch last Thursday but was again forced to play second fiddle to Aaron Ramsdale as his side drew 0-0 away at Switzerland this week, both games were in The Euro Elite League.

Bright Academy youngster Dan Kemp was yet another of the young English talents on show for the U19 side in an incredible 7-1 thrashing of Poland. Kemp was a contender for man of the match at St George’s Park, as he recorded two assists and heads back to East London in fine form.

Portugal’s Domingos Quina was another who impressed over the summer in Georgia, but not even he could prevent defeats against The Czech Republic and Holland, taking the step up to the U20 side this time around.

And finally, Academy keeper Rihards Matrevics featured for The Latvia U19’s in their friendly double header with Greece, winning 1-2 and losing 5-0 in the two games.

So, with a staggering 19 Hammers stars returning home from all corners of the world, signaling the end of the first dreaded international break of the season.

The main hope for Slaven Bilic and Terry Westley will be that all the players arrive back at Rush Green without any fresh injury concerns, as the first-team prepare for a six pointer clash with Huddersfield Town at The London Stadium on Monday night.