Internationals | Sa handed late Portugal call-up for World Cup play-off

Jose Sa has been handed a late call-up to the Portugal national team as they face a crucial play-off to secure a place at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Following the goalkeeper’s selection, Bruno Lage will see nine members of his current Wolves first-team squad spending time with their countries in the coming fortnight.

After Ruben Neves had to drop out of the squad following his injury on Friday night, Sa and Joao Moutinho have been left with the aim of firing Portugal to the World Cup, but they first must get through a semi-final play-off with Turkey in Porto on Thursday (24th March).

If they are to make it through that match, they face a final clash with either Italy or North Macedonia, which would be played in Porto on Tuesday (29th March).

Similarly to Portugal, Morocco and Romain Saiss are also two games away from a place in Qatar, with the Atlas Lions’ captain looking to help his country through to the finals in one of the five spaces reserved for African nations.

They face a two-legged qualifying tie with DR Congo, heading away on Friday (25th March) before hosting the second leg in Rabat on Tuesday, with the winner securing a spot in this winter's competition.

Another Wolves man hoping to book his place at the World Cup this week is Raul Jimenez. The Mexican is suspended for the next two Premier League fixtures following his red card on Friday night, so expect him to be a key man for his country as they face a trio of crucial matches.

Mexico currently sit third in the CONCACAF table, four points clear of fourth-place Panama, with the top three sides guaranteeing a place in Qatar, and face USA on Friday, before heading to Honduras on Monday (28th March) and returning home on Thursday (31st March) for a final qualifying fixture against El Salvador.

Hee Chan Hwang is also set for South Korean action as they face Iran at home on Thursday, before heading to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday for their final third round group stage matches.

South Korea have already guaranteed themselves a place in the World Cup, knowing that even defeat in those two matches will not allow them to be caught in the top two of their AFC qualifying group.

Captain Conor Coady is back with England having been named in Gareth Southgate’s latest squad for a pair of friendly fixtures, both set to be played at Wembley Stadium.

With their place at the World Cup already confirmed, the Three Lions will take on Switzerland on Saturday 26th March and Ivory Coast three days later (Tuesday 29th) as their preparations ramp up.

Coady’s defensive teammate Willy Boly will be hoping to be in the Ivory Coast team for their clash at Wembley having been announced in his country's squad for their friendly fixtures.

Ahead of their match with England on Tuesday, the Ivorians are playing just over the English Channel as they take on France in the first of their two games on Friday.

Also in friendly action this week will be Leander Dendoncker. The Belgian is part of Roberto Martinez’s squad for their fixtures against the Republic of Ireland on Saturday and Burkina Faso on Tuesday.

Fabio Silva is also away on international duty this week having been selected by Portugal under-21s for their UEFA under-21 championship qualifying matches with Iceland and Greece.

Portugal are sat top of the Group D table after five wins from their five qualifying matches so far, and will hope to continue their 100 per cent record when they host fourth-placed Iceland on Friday before heading to second-place Greece on Tuesday.

There was also a call-up into the France under-21 squad for Rayan Ait-Nouri, but the wing-back will not be representing his country this week due to personal reasons.

Elsewhere, midfielder Connor Ronan, who is currently on loan at St Mirren, has earned his debut call-up to the Republic of Ireland national team for their friendly fixtures against Belgium and Lithuania, while fellow loanee Bendeguz Bolla – on loan at Grasshoppers – is in the Hungary squad as they face friendlies with Serbia and Northern Ireland.

Currently on loan and firing for Sheffield United in the Championship, Morgan Gibbs-White is part of the England under-21 squad for their Euro qualifiers against Andorra and Albania.

Wolves internationals March fixtures

Sa, Moutinho (Portugal): FIFA World Cup qualifying play-off

  • Thursday 24th March vs Turkey (H)
  • TBC – Tuesday 29th March vs Italy/North Macedonia (H)

Saiss (Morocco): FIFA World Cup qualifying play-off

  • Friday 25th March vs DR Congo (A)
  • Tuesday 29th March vs DR Congo (H)

Jimenez (Mexico): World Cup qualifiers

  • Friday 25th March vs USA (H)
  • Monday 28th March vs Honduras (A)
  • Thursday 31st March vs El Salvador (H)

Hwang (South Korea): World Cup qualifiers

  • Thursday 24th March vs Iran (H)
  • Tuesday 29th March vs UAE (A)

Coady (England): Friendlies

  • Saturday 26th March vs Switzerland (H)
  • Tuesday 29th March vs Ivory Coast (H)

Dendoncker (Belgium): Friendlies

  • Saturday 26th March vs Republic of Ireland (A)
  • Tuesday 29th March vs Burkina Faso (H)

Boly (Ivory Coast): Friendlies

  • Friday 25th March vs France (A)
  • Tuesday 29th March vs England (A)

Silva (Portugal under-21): European Under-21 Championship qualifiers

  • Friday 25th March vs Iceland (H)
  • Tuesday 29th March vs Greece (A)