The international break came to an end and four Stoke City first teamers reconvened with the club Wednesday or Thursday. For those four players, it was a successful break and a break in which they all logged minutes with their national teams.
Midfielder Will Smallbone started both of The Republic of Ireland’s U21 games during the break. While Smallbone did not record a goal in either match, he was still able to log starting minutes in both meetings against Israel.
Republic of Ireland and Smallbone drew in their first match against Israel 1-1 and in the second match lost on penalties. Smallbone seems to be all but locked in as a starter at Republic of Ireland’s U21 level and could reach senior team level one day.
Jordan Thompson was used as a sub in Northern Ireland’s first match against Kosovo on Saturday. Northern Ireland fell in that match 2-1. The midfielder then made a start in the squad’s second match against Greece. That one ended in a 3-1 win for Greece.
Thompson did not end up on the stat sheet with a goal or assist in either game. He was able to see some action though. Thompson will be hoping he can break in as an every-game starter for Northern Ireland next time he joins up with the senior squad.
Goalkeeper Josef Bursik saw action in only one match with England’s U21 team. That start came at the beginning of the international break against Italy. Bursik helped the team to a clean sheet victory in that match.
In England’s U21 second match against Germany, Bursik did not get a chance to be in goal. Bursik is generally seen as someone who could challenge his competition someday to start in net for England’s senior team.
Striker Liam Delap got off to a scorching-hot start with England’s U20 national team. Delap scored a goal and had a couple of other great scoring opportunities in the team’s first match against Chile.
Delap did not start in the squad’s next two matches, which were wins against Morocco and Australia. He was used as a sub in both of those matches. Delap did not find the back of the net in either sub appearance, however.
England likely wanted to get a good look at their whole roster given the U20 nature, so the Manchester City loanee could still be seen as a future star player for England.