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25 August 2017

Lanzini, Chicharito, Arnautovic among Hammers called-up for international duty

West Ham’s Andre Ayew shows his passion after scoring for Ghana

Manuel Lanzini, Chicharito and Marko Arnautovic are among eight West Ham United players who have been called-up for vital 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Andre Ayew, Edimilson Fernandes, Jose Fonte, James Collins and Robert Snodgrass have also been included by their respective nations as the race to reach Russia hots up.

Lanzini is in line for his first competitive appearances for La Albiceleste when Jorge Sampaoli’s squad tackle South American rivals Uruguay and Venezuela.

Argentina need to beat their third-place neighbours in Montevideo, as they sit fifth in the CONMEBOL qualifying table, with only the top four automatically qualify for next summer’s finals.

The No10, who debuted in a friendly against Brazil in Melbourne in June, will be confident of victory over bottom side Venezuela in his home city of Buenos Aires.

Chicharito will almost certainly earn caps 97 and 98 for Mexico when El Tri face Panama and Costa Rica in CONCACAF qualifying.

Mexico are on course to reach their 16th World Cup in 21 attempts as they sit top of the Round 5 qualifying table and need just one win to secure their place in Russia.

Closer to home, Arnautovic’s Austria take on Collins’ Wales and Georgia knowing two victories are vital if they are to close the gap on European Group D pace-setters Serbia and Republic of Ireland. Wales also face Moldova in their second September qualifier.

Austria sit fourth in the group, level on eight points with Wales, with the two leaders four points clear with four matches to be played. The group winners qualify, with the runners-up likely going into a two-legged play-off.

Sead Haksabanovic is in Montenegro’s 24-man squad for their Group E qualifiers with Kazakhstan and Romania.

The Montenegrins are in good shape as they aim to reach their first World Cup finals, sitting second in the table behind Poland and ahead of Denmark on goal difference. Victories over their struggling rivals would put them on course for a play-off position, at least.

Jose Fonte’s Portugal are also well-placed in Group B, sitting second behind Edimilson Fernandes’ Switzerland. The Swiss have won six out of six, while Portugal have won five out of six. The UEFA Euro 2016 winners face Faroe Islands and Hungary, while the Swiss tackle Andorra and Latvia.

Snodgrass’ Scotland are also desperate for points against Lithuania and Malta – the only two nations below them in Group F. The Scots have eight points from six matches, but England (14), Slovakia (12) and Slovenia (11) are above them in the table.

In Africa, Andre Ayew’s Ghana simply must win both matches in their Group E double-header with Congo to give themselves a chance of overhauling group leaders Egypt.

Ghana have just one points from their opening two ties and, with Egypt on six points and just four matches to be played, the Black Stars need to take maximum points from the winless Congo.

Finally, Declan Rice will continue his development and gain more valuable experience if he makes his Ireland U21 debut in a UEFA European Championship qualifier in Azerbaijan.

Rice, who could partner on-loan Hammers youngster Josh Cullen in midfield, will hope to help Ireland build on their victory over Kosovo in their opening Group 5 fixture.

Credit: Whufc.com



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