The World Cup is taking place from the 21st of November to the 18th of December, and the North East and Newcastle, in particular, will be well represented. Apart from rooting for England, the presence of Toon players in other nations’ teams always adds that extra bit of interest to matches involving two otherwise neutral sides. That, alongside the World Cup offers available from the likes of OddsChecker, means there is no need for any game to be meaningless. So as we sit today, which players will be swapping the famous black and white jerseys for their national kit in November and December?
Kieran Trippier – England
Out of all the arrivals in the January window, the England right-back probably had the biggest influence, and that was despite his foot injury ruling him out for several weeks. Many could be forgiven for thinking that his England career was all but over, not because of anything Trippier has or hasn’t done, but purely because of the number of options England have in that position. Kieran has been a consistent performer for his country, however, and Southgate obviously rates him. There is also his ability with the dead ball, something that is even more crucial at international level than it is at club level. Whether he starts is debatable, but he will certainly be on the plane.
Fabian Schär – Switzerland
Capped 71 times by his country, the ball-playing centre-back was a key member of the side that did so well at the Euros last summer, reaching the quarter-finals. They backed that up by topping their World Cup qualifying group, in the process subjecting Italy to their second World Cup absence in a row. Switzerland share a group with Brazil, Serbia and Cameroon, so will have their work cut out to progress, but they have surprised everyone before.
Bruno Guimarães – Brazil
Another January signing, Bruno is a defensive midfielder who knows how to find the back of the net. He has firmly established himself in the Brazilian national side and is a likely starter for the World Cup favourites, where he will come up against his new teammate Schär.
Chris Wood – New Zealand
At the time of writing, New Zealand’s leading ever goalscorer – with 30 – is still unclear whether his country will be at Qatar, as they face a play-off against Costa Rica. If they do get through that, they face a group containing Spain, Germany and Japan. With only two teams able to get out of each group, that will be a very tough test for the All Whites, to say the least.