West Ham United's October internationals - All You Need To Know
Eight senior West Ham United players have been called up by their countries for fixtures to be played during the October international break.
Pablo Fornals will hope to win the UEFA Nations League with Spain, while Łukasz Fabiański will bid an emotional farewell to international football with Poland.
Alongside Fabiański, Saïd Benrahma, Alex Král, Declan Rice, Tomáš Souček, Nikola Vlašić and Andriy Yarmolenko will also be in 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying action for their respective countries.
With qualifying for next winter’s tournament in Qatar past the halfway stage, the Hammers contingent will be heading across Europe and Africa in their quest to help their nations reach the finals.
Meanwhile, no fewer than nine Academy of Football youngsters have also received call-ups and will take part in a variety of competitive and friendly fixtures.
When and where are our Hammers in action?
Let’s start with Pablo Fornals, who is in the Spain squad for the 2021 UEFA Nations League finals in Italy.
Spain face the UEFA Euro 2020 champions at the San Siro in Milan on Wednesday 6 October, with the winners going through to take on Belgium or France in the final at the same venue on Sunday 10 October. The losers will face a third-place play-off at the Juventus Stadium in Turin earlier the same day.
While Fornals’ international career is in its infancy, Fabiański is set to enjoy a farewell appearance for Poland in a FIFA World Cup Group I qualifier at home to San Marino on Saturday 9 October. The 36-year-old goalkeeper announced his retirement from international football in August, calling time on a 15-year career which saw him earn 56 caps and travel to five major tournaments.
Poland sit third in Group I, five points behind Declan Rice’s England, who are top, and one point behind Albania, who they face – without Fabiański – in Tirana on Tuesday 12 October.
Rice and England, meanwhile, while hope to seal qualification for the World Cup by winning their two qualifiers, away to Andorra on Saturday 9 October and home to Hungary at Wembley on Tuesday 12 October.
Remaining in Europe, West Ham duo Král and Souček will hope to help Czech Republic get their Group E campaign back on track after a 3-0 defeat in Belgium in September. Vladimír Coufal was also called-up, but later withdrawn from the squad due to a groin injury. The Czechs sit second, but are nine points behind Belgium and level on points with Wales, who have three games remaining to the Czechs’ two.
That means the home fixture with Wales in Prague on Friday 8 October is vital, while a victory over Belarus in a match being held in the Russian city of Kazan on Monday 11 October would also give the Czechs’ qualification chances a huge boost.
Yarmolenko’s Ukraine also face a make or break pair of matches after drawing all five of their Group D matches so far. Ukraine may be unbeaten, but they are seven points behind France with just three matches left to play, and Finland are level with Ukraine on five points, but with a game in hand.
And the 102-times capped forward will hope to inspire his country to three vital points when they travel to Helsinki on Saturday 9 October, and another win when they welcome Bosnia and Herzegovina to Lviv on Tuesday 12 October.
Vlašić’s Croatia are in better shape, sitting top of Group H with 13 points from six matches and ahead of Russia on goal difference. With four games still to play, victory in Cyprus on Friday 8 October and home to Slovakia on Monday 11 October would put the Croatians in position to finish the job when they travel to Malta and host Russia in November.
Away from Europe, Benrahma’s Algeria continue the second round of Africa’s qualification programme with a home and away double-header with Niger on Friday 8 October in Blida and Tuesday 12 October in Niamey respectively. The winner of their four-team Group A, which concludes in November, will advance to the final play-off round to determine who makes it through to Qatar.
Where can I watch the games?
England’s three matches will all be broadcast live in the UK on ITV and online via the ITV Hub.
The UEFA Nations League finals and European FIFA World Cup qualifiers will be shown by Sky Sports, while Algeria’s two qualifiers will be available via FIFATV.
How about our young players?
Nine of our Academy players will also be away with their respective national teams at age-group level.
Midfielder Conor Coventry, who joined EFL Championship club Peterborough United on loan on deadline day, will be involved in UEFA U21 Championship qualifiers with the Republic of Ireland, as they face Luxembourg at home and Montenegro away.
Goalkeeper Krisztián Hegyi is with Hungary U21s as they also play qualifiers for the same tournament at home to Poland and Germany, while fellow stopper Brian Kinnear and full-back Harrison Ashby are both in the Scotland U21 squad for a home qualifier with Denmark.
All four Hammers will hope their countries can secure qualification for the final tournament, which will be held in Georgia and Romania in the summer of 2023.
Midfielder Pierre Ekwah is named in the France U20 squad for a friendly double-header with Tunisia, defender Jamal Baptiste links up with England U19s for friendly matches with France, Mexico and Belgium in Marbella, Spain, while Sonny Perkins is with the U18s at the same venue for friendlies with Norway and Russia.
Centre-back Michael Forbes joins up with the Northern Ireland U19 squad for 2022 European U19 Championship Group 13 qualifiers with hosts Czech Republic, Denmark and Kazakhstan in the Czech Republic, while midfielder Oliver Scarles is named in England U17s’ squad for 2022 European Championship Group 13 qualifiers with hosts Belarus, Armenia and Slovakia. Both scholars will hope to help their countries reach the Elite Round of qualifying for next year’s final tournaments in Slovakia and Israel respectively.