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Your guide to Manchester United’s international break

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14 players are off on their holidays.

Manchester United v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Let’s. Get. International.

It’d be easy to get frustrated. Just as the Premier League starts to build some kind of competitive tension, just as the two halves of Manchester draw alongside one another at the top of the league, just as “Liverpool (a)” hoves into view ... everything grinds to a stop and we all have to switch over to international football again.

But we’ll have no negativity here. Russia 2018 isn’t that far away, so all this is important. We’re approaching the sharp end of the process, and both Europe and South America decide their automatic qualifiers in this round of fixtures. Here, then, is what all your favourite Manchester United players will be up to over the next two weeks. The ones that aren’t sitting at home pretending to be injured, that is.

England

Thanks to Phil Jones’ withdrawal through injury, there’s just the three United players in Gareth Southgate’s England squad: Jesse Lingard, Chris Smalling, and Marcus Rashford. England play Slovenia at home, then travel to Lithuania, and need just one win from those two games to secure their place in Russia.

Elsewhere in Europe

Matteo Darmian’s Italy will be playing against Macedonia and Albania, but keeping one eye on Spain. The Azzurri are currently three points behind the Spaniards in Group G, and will be hoping David de Gea chucks a couple in against Albania or Israel.

Also going head to head are Victor Lindelof and Daley Blind. Sweden are second in Group A, while the Dutch are just three points behind, and — following games against Luxembourg and Belarus respectively — the two teams meet in Amsterdam to settle the runners-up spot. France lead the group, incidentally, but with Paul Pogba injured and Anthony Martial out of favour, there’s no United interest there. Screw you, Didier Deschamps.

Nemanja Matic’s Serbia are four points clear in Group D, and need just one win against Austria or Georgia to qualify. Meanwhile Belgium have already qualified, so Marouane Fellaini and Romelu Lukaku can take things a little easier against Bosnia & Herzegovina and Cypruse. In fact, Lukaku may not even play, as he’s having a scan on a minor ankle injury.

Finally, Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s off to captain Armenia against Poland and Kazakhstan, though sadly the Armenians have already been eliminated from qualifying.

South America

Things are seriously squeaky in South America, and Sergio Romero is right in the middle of it. Argentina are currently fifth in CONMEBOL’s magnificently intense league qualifying system, and fifth place means a playoff against New Zealand. Their final two games comes against fourth-placed Peru and then Ecuador. Antonio Valencia’s men also have to play Chile, and though they start the week in eighth place, they’re only four points from qualifying.

Africa

Just Eric Bailly flying the flag for United. Ivory Coast are currently a point clear of Morocco in Group C, and if they can pick up a win over Mali, they’ll be sitting pretty ahead of the final qualifying game in November.

List of games

(all times BST)

Thursday 5 October

England vs. Slovenia 19.45
Armenia vs. Poland 20.00

Friday 6 October

Chile vs. Ecuador 00.30
Argentina vs. Peru 00.30
Austria vs. Serbia 19.45
Mali vs. Ivory Coast 20.00
Italy vs. FYR Macedonia 20.45
Spain vs. Albania 20.45

Saturday 7 October

Bosnia & Herzegovina vs. Belgium 18.00
Sweden vs. Luxembourg 18.00
Belarus vs. Netherlands 21.45

Sunday 8 October

Lithuania vs. England 19.45
Kazakhstan vs. Armenia 22.00

Monday 9 October

Serbia vs. Georgia 19.45
Albania vs. Italy 20.45
Israel vs. Spain 21.45

Tuesday 10 October

Belgium vs. Cyprus 20.45
Netherlands vs. Sweden 20.45

Wednesday 11 October

Ecuador vs. Argentina 00.30