Emanuele Giaccherini

Nine Cats set for international action


Giaccherini, Altidore, and Ki in 2014 World Cup preparations.

Nine Sunderland players are set for international action this week as multiple Black Cats stars look to force their way into their respective countries’ World Cup squads.

Emanuele Giaccherini is in the Italy squad to face Spain in Madrid on Wednesday evening at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The 28-year-old has been capped 18 times by his country and could well feature in Cesare Prandelli’s final squad for Rio 2014 after impressing in last year’s Confederations Cup in Brazil.

Elsewhere, Steven Fletcher and Phil Bardsley have been called up to Gordon Strachan’s Scotland squad for the Tartan Army’s international friendly against Poland in Warsaw.

Bardsley, who has not featured for his country in nearly two years, could win his 13th international cap whilst Fletcher would go one ahead of his team-mate onto 14 caps if he plays on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Jozy Altidore’s USA side continue their preparations for the World Cup as the Stars and Stripes travel to Cyprus to face Ukraine.

The New Jersey-born frontman was a regular during qualifying for Jurgen Klinsmann’s side and he is four goals short of moving into the USA’s top five all-time leading marksmen.

Also in preparation for Rio 2014, Ki Sung-Yueng’s South Korea travel to Athens to face Greece at Olympiakos’ Karaiskakis Stadium.

Ki has been a regular for Hong Myung-Bo’s side over the past five years and he has recorded 55 caps, scoring five goals.

John O’Shea has also been called up by the Republic of Ireland for their friendly with Serbia at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Wednesday whilst Seb Larsson is in the Sweden squad as they travel to Ankara to face Turkey.

In youth international action, John Egan has returned to the Republic of Ireland U21 squad for their UEFA U21 European Championship qualifier against Montenegro in Dublin.

Also in under-21 qualifying action is Charis Mavrias as the 20-year-old winger heads back to his native land to face Turkey in Katerini in group seven of qualification for the 2015 championships.