Another international break comes and goes as the Villa contingent reunite at Bodymoor Heath once more.
In the October internationals, Villa players played a part in sixteen fixtures for their native countries. Whilst some were more successful than others, the experiences sustained by those that were selected to represent their nation may prove invaluable to the development of their individual skill sets as players. Although the risk of injury is obviously increased when a player partakes in a higher amount of games – including the risk of fatigue – exposure to the world’s best will only benefit a player before he returns to his club.
This article compiles October’s contributions from the Villa stars representing their nations worldwide.
England – Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings
Villa’s representation at St. George’s park was bolstered by Jack Grealish’s inclusion into the national team framework from the off, as he and Tyrone Mings joined up with the lion pack.
In the opener of the trio, the Villa skipper started the game and fulfilled three-quarters of the match from his familiar inside left position. He assisted the first of England’s three goals on the night against a Welsh side battling through the absence of major players, most notably, Gareth Bale.
Introduced just before the hour mark, Tyrone Mings helped the three lions maintain a clean sheet, whilst also replicating the contributions of club teammate Grealish – assisting Danny Ings from a header, following a corner, just five minutes after coming on.
In the second game of the international period, England hosted the world’s best-ranked national team – Belgium. Winning 2-1 after, falling behind early on, Gareth Southgate opted to keep both Villans on the bench for Sunday nights crunch Nations League tie.
To round off the week, England faced Denmark at Wembley. Once again, Grealish played no part in proceedings. However, Mings was substituted on in a tactical switch with ten minutes remaining in the first half, as fellow centre-back, Harry Maguire, had been sent off for two bookable offences.
Scotland – John McGinn
On Thursday night, Scotland faced Israel in the European qualifiers, play-off semi-final. After 120 minutes of football, the sides couldn’t be separated, leading to a penalty shoot-out, of which the Scots won. John McGinn played every minute of the game, as well as dispatching his penalty to help his nation win their first-ever shootout!
In the second tier of Nations League football, Group B2, McGinn played almost a full game again – being subbed off in the last minute of normal time. His efforts were enough to secure three points and another clean sheet, as Scotland beat Slovakia 1-0.
In the absence of Liverpool‘s Andrew Robertson, McGinn captained Scotland to Victory on Wednesday night after beating the Czech Republic 1-0. A third successive block-out for the team, as they push towards promotion to the top division of the Nations League. McGinn was substituted in the 79’ minute.
Republic of Ireland – Conor Hourihane
In another playoff semi-final, for qualification for the European Championships, the Republic of Ireland were held to a goalless draw against Slovakia, in Bratislava, as Hourihane played all 120 minutes. In the following penalty shootout, Villa man Hourihane scored his country’s first spot-kick, although it proved insignificant, as the Irish went on to lose.
Against Wales on Sunday, Hourihane started, and finished on the field, as both sides failed to capitalize on chances at either end with the match finishing all square, 0-0.
In their final game of what had already been a rather dismal break from club football, Ireland lost 1-0 in Helsinki, against Finland. Hourihane played another 90 minutes.
Brazil – Douglas Luiz
On Saturday night, Douglas Luiz made his first start for Brazil – in a 5-0 mauling of Bolivia, in the first round of world cup qualifiers. Completing 88 of the 93 passes that he attempted, Luiz didn’t look out of place in a midfield three alongside Barcelona’s Philippe Coutinho, and Real Madrid’s Casemiro.
In their second game, four days later, the five-time world cup winners beat Peru 4-2, in another world cup qualifier. Luiz played the full game again, alongside the same duo from La Liga, to round off a very positive international period for him.
Argentina –Emiliano Martínez
Villa’s new number one still remains deputized amongst Argentinian ranks, as Lionel Messi’s penalty overcame Ecuador, before a 2-1 win against Bolivia four days later.
Zimbabwe – Marvelous Nakamba
In their first international fixture for nearly year, Zimbabwe travelled to the Mpira Stadium to face Malawi, in a friendly fixture.
The Villa man played a full 90 minutes as the Warriors earned a goalless draw in Blantyre.
Burkina Faso – Bertrand Traoré
On Friday night, Traoré scored for the West African’s, as they hit three with no reply against DR Congo. This, the first game of a double-headed international friendly schedule for the Burkinabés this month.
Three days later, Traoré found the net again, helping overcome Madagascar in Burkina Faso’s final game before AFCON (Africa Cup Of Nations) qualification restarts next month.
With no clear injuries to report, Dean Smith will look forward to reassembling his Villa squad before the Premier League restarts again, this weekend.