West Ham United's James Collins and Radoslav Kovac both got valuable minutes under their belts during Wednesday evening's round of FIFA 2010 World Cup qualifiers.
Collins underlined his fitness with another good display for Wales as they lost 2-0 at home to Germany - a defeat that all but ends their World Cup hopes.
The West Ham United defender has not played for the club in over a month but, after his weekend showing in the home defeat by Finland, has now got two full matches under his belt in quick succession. Collins was one of the most senior players on view in an inexperienced Wales lineup, shorn of the injured Craig Bellamy, and came close to a consolation with a first-half header that just cleared the crossbar.
Wales are well adrift of Germany, Russia and Finland in Group 4 and look set to miss out on another major finals. Also missing for the principality have been Danny Gabbidon and Jack Collison, with both West Ham men working their way back from injury. Meanwhile, Collins' return will have given Gianfranco Zola something to think about with Matthew Upson, Lucas Neill and James Tomkins all impressing of late at centre-back.
Kovac got 72 minutes as the Czech Republic went down to a surprise 2-1 home defeat by Slovakia in a keenly-contested World Cup qualifier in Prague.
The midfielder sat out at the weekend when his country were held to a goalless draw in Slovenia. On Wednesday night, Zdenek Grygera's goal on the half-hour levelled matters for the Czechs after Stanislav Sestak had given Slovakia a 22nd-minute lead. Kovac then made way for Zdenek Pospech for the closing stages but the change did not pay off for the Czechs as they conceded a late Erik Jendrisek goal.
With Northern Ireland winning 1-0 against Slovenia, the Czechs find themselves in trouble in Group 3. They are five points behind the Northern Irish and four adrift of the Slovakians, who have a game in hand as well.
At Wembley, neither goalkeeper Robert Green nor Upson featured for England in the Group 6 qualifier against Ukraine. However, neither have any injury problems and are expected to be fit for Saturday's Premier League visit of Sunderland to the Boleyn Ground.
On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Jonathan Spector did not figure for the United States in the CONCACAF fourth round qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago - featuring Sunderland's Kenwyne Jones and Carlos Edwards. The US won 3-0.