We’re in the middle of a promotion chase, but we’re also only a few days away from the March international break. While their teams look to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, three Leeds United players will be representing their countries.
Midfielder Eunan O’Kane got the call-up to the Republic of Ireland’s International 39-man provisional squad and will hope to be on the final 23-man roster as Ireland plays Wales and Iceland on the 24th and 28th of March.
O’Kane has made five prior appearances for the Irish but failed to make Ireland’s Euro 2016 squad. He previously played for Northern Ireland at the U16 and U21 level but switched allegiances in 2012.
The Republic of Ireland has a lot of talent in the center mid position: O’Kane will have to try to earn a spot with James McCarthy, Harry Arter, Conor Hourihane, and Darren Gibson also in the mix. Ireland is currently sitting pretty on top of Group D in the qualifier. They’re first place with 10 points, followed by Serbia with 8, and Wales with 6.
Winger Stuart Dallas also got the call, and he’ll be representing Northern Ireland as they face Norway on March 26th. It’s a shame Eunan O’Kane didn’t stick to Northern Ireland; it’d be pretty cool seeing him and Dallas have a club and country connection.
Dallas has made 19 appearances for the Green and White Army since 2011 and has been a part of the national team program since being a Northern Ireland Junior international. Stuart will play alongside Chris Brunt, Steven David, and Will Grigg.
Lastly, star striker Chris Wood will be representing New Zealand as they face off in a double-header against Fiji on March 24th and 27th. Wood has been representing New Zealand since 2007 when he made his debut in the 2007 U17 World Cup in Korea.
He has 42 appearances for the Kiwis, and he has 19 goals to show for it.
New Zealand probably has the easiest path through the qualifiers, as they are in a group of three with New Caledonia and Fiji. They are on top of the group with 4 points, New Caledonia with 1, and Fiji with 0.
Best of luck to all three of our lads, here’s hoping we have no injuries and come back ready for the biggest April in Leeds in a long time. MOT.