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Eleven Hammers head for international duty

West Ham have 11 players involved on international duty over the next fortnight – half a dozen on full international duty and five academy stars at under 21. 20 and 18 level.

The six  will be involved in senior international action over the next fortnight, playing in  FIFA World Cup qualifiers across Europe, Africa and South America, and friendly matches too.

Thankfully – with Jamaica unable to qualify from their World Group squad – the Jammers No9 is not involved and can get a well deserved and much needed rest.

It would of course been handy for Declan to have got a break too  given that Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions are only involved in a couple of friendlies.

Hopefully he won’t be over involved and risk injury which at this stage of the season, with so much at stake, would be disastrous for the Hammers.

Nikola Vlašić

Alphonse Areola and Nikola Vlašić are in a similar position with France and Croatia respectively. Tomáš Souček’s Czech Republic and Arthur Masuaku’s DR Congo however, will be facing play offs as they aim to book their place.

Argentina have already secured their spot in the finals, but they have two further qualifiers to play this month, with Manuel Lanzini hoping to play his part.

Souček’s Czech Republic face Sweden in their Play-Off semi-final in Solna and will take on the winner of Wales against Austria for a place at the World Cup on Tuesday.

If they are unsuccessful against Sweden, they will play a friendly in Poland instead.

Then, on Friday, three of our Hammers could be in action.  DR Congo play the first-leg of their Play-Off against Morocco in Kinshasa.

The Leopards have not qualified for a finals tournament since 1974 so Masuaku will be aiming to make history with the winner of this tie heading to Qatar. The return leg will be played on Tuesday in Rabat.

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Across the Atlantic  Lanzini will hope to add to his five Argentina caps when his country host Venezuala in Buenos Aires. Closer to home, Areola’s France take on Ivory Coast in a Marseille friendly.

The following day, Vlašić and Croatia take on Slovenia in Doha, as they check out the host country for the World Cup, while Rice could feature for England at Wembley as they take on Switzerland in a friendly international.

The following midweek, in addition to the World Cup Play-Offs already mentioned, Tuesday is the day to look out for our internationals.

Lanzini will head to Ecuador for a qualifier in Guayaquil, while it’s Rice’s turn to take on Ivory Coast – again at Wembley.

France’s friendly sees them play South Africa in Lille, while Vlašić is again involved in Doha, this time for a friendly against Bulgaria.

Ben Johnson

A group of our youngsters playing for their countries with Ben Johnson headlines getting his  first England U21s call.  The right-back will aim for his first cap as Lee Carsley’s team play UEFA U21 European Championship qualifiers against Andorra in Bournemouth on Friday, and away at Albania on Tuesday.

One age group down, Aji Alese faces two UEFA U20 Elite League fixtures for England against Poland and Germany – also on Friday and Tuesday. A brace of wins could see the Young Lions top the table.

Heading back to U21 level, Conor Coventry, currently on loan at MK Dons, will link-up with Republic of Ireland as their U21 European Championship qualification campaign continues in Sweden on Friday. Victory would bring them within a point of the hosts, who currently top Group F.

Elsewhere, strikers Sonny Perkins and Divin Mubama have both been called up for the England U18s squad. The team are preparing to play two friendlies, against Switzerland on Friday 25 March, and Denmark next Tuesday.

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About Hugh5outhon1895

Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!" Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon