In the European section of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, Northern Ireland face a tough challenge when they welcome runaway Group F leaders Russia to Windsor Park, and Aaron Hughes is in the squad for the visit of Fabio Capello’s side. Chris Baird is suspended for Friday’s match, but he will be available for Tuesday’s game against Israel, which is also in Belfast.
Brede Hangeland and John Arne Riise are both expected to start for Norway in Oslo when they face Albania in Group E on Friday. The Nordic side currently sit second in the standings and will be optimistic of putting some distance between themselves and the Albanians, who are one point behind in third.
Having scored at Craven Cottage on his last run-out for the national side, Mladen Petrić retains his place in the Croatia squad for their qualifying double-header in Group A. First up is a home clash in Zagreb against third-placed Serbia on Friday, before returning to the UK to face Chris Coleman’s Wales at the Liberty Stadium on Tuesday.
Giorgos Karagounis will hope to transfer his good Barclays Premier League form to the international stage when Greece travel to Bosnia for a top-versus-second clash on Friday. It’s currently only goal difference that separates the former European Champions from leaders Bosnia in Group G.
Philippe Senderos has been a solid part of the Fulham side that has conceded just two goals in four games and the centre-back has been rewarded with a recall to the Switzerland squad. They travel to Nicosia to face Cyprus on Saturday looking to extend their lead at the summit of Group E.
Having recovered from injury, Kerim Frei will now look to build on his first cap for Turkey in their qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary. The Turkish have struggled so far in Group D and currently occupy fourth position. They travel to Andorra on Friday, before welcoming the Hungarians to Istanbul on Tuesday.
Right-back Stanislav Manolev and Bulgaria have a chance to close the gap on Group B leaders Italy when they take on Malta in Sofia on Friday, before they face a more testing encounter away to Denmark the following Tuesday.
Young goalkeeper Jesse Joronen is in the Finland squad preparing to take on current World and European Champions Spain in Gijon on Friday. He will then meet up with the Under-21 side for their friendly match in Hungary on Tuesday.
Out-on-loan winger Alexander Kačaniklić keeps his place in the Sweden squad as they prepare for a crucial qualifying match with the Republic of Ireland in Solna on Friday. Only a point separates the two sides in Group C and a win would give the victors a huge boost in their efforts to catch current leaders Germany. The Swedes then face Slovakia in a friendly match four days later.
In other World Cup Qualifiers across the globe, Emmanuel Frimpong could realise his dream of representing Ghana when they host Sudan in Kumasi on Sunday. The midfielder had previously represented England at youth level but has since switched allegiance to his country of birth.
In Sydney, Mark Schwarzer and Australia will hope to build on their win over Iraq back in October when they face Oman on Tuesday. Having failed to win any of their opening three matches in the Asian Qualifying section, the Socceroos now sit eight points behind Japan in Group B, although they do have a game in hand.
Bryan Ruiz is also in World Cup qualifying action as Costa Rica embark on two testing matches in the North, Central America and Caribbean section. First up is a trip to the States to take on Jürgen Klinsmann’s men, before they host Jamaica in San José.
Away from the World Cup, Iran continue with their quest to qualify for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup when they travel to Kuwait for Tuesday’s match. Ashkan Dejagah was a nuisance in their first outing – a comprehensive 5-0 victory over Lebanon – and the in-form winger is in the squad once again.
Neil Etheridge has three games in five days as the Philippines compete in their AFC Challenge Cup 2014 qualifiers. Brunei, Cambodia and Turkmenistan are the opponents for the Azkals.
Omri Altman has been called up to the Israel Under-21 squad for friendly matches against the Netherlands and Germany, while Lasse Vigen Christensen will hope to be in the Denmark Under-19 side that have a friendly match in France. Sean Kavanagh could also be in Under-19 action following his call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad for their clash with Gibraltar in Malaga.
Jack Grimmer has already represented Scotland Under-19s this week as he played the full 90 minutes of their impressive comeback against Sweden in Ayr. The away side stormed into a 2-0 lead, only for the Scots to win the match 3-2.