First Team News

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Blues band answer the nation's call

Carrington entrance

Carrington entrance

The now-usual exodus from Carrington takes place this week with internationals on the agenda for many Blues players, including Fabio Capello's England Gang of Four.

Wayne Bridge, Joleon Lescott, Gareth Barry and Shaun-Wright Phillips take their expected places in the Three Lions squad for the fag-end World Cup qualifiers against Ukraine and Belarus.

Midfielder Barry is a Fab favourite, of course, but with England already sure of a Finals place, it's maybe a chance for some team-mates to stake a stronger claim to a seat for South Africa.

Pablo Zabaleta has at last caught the eye of beleaguered Diego Maradona, earning his Argentina call-up alongside Carlos Tevez for the crucial matches at home to Peru and away to Uruguay.

Shay Given, on 98 caps for the Republic of Ireland, joins his team-mates for the key games in their qualifying campaign at home to world champions Italy and then in Montenegro.

City skipper Kolo Toure heads for a qualifier in Malawi with Ivory Coast, while in-form Bulgaria winger Martin Petrov has a double date in Cyprus and then at home to Georgia.

Manu Adebayor's Togo face Cameroon and then, in midweek, a trip to Japan, while teenage winger Vladi Weiss will be champing at the bit as his Slovakia tackle Slovenia and Poland.

Craig Bellamy won't allow Wales' disappointing World Cup campaign to affect his captain's commitment in end-of-group matches against Finland and Liechtenstein.

Nigel de Jong has only the one game but the longest trip of all - Holland, already qualified, have surprisingly undertaken a friendly against Australia in Sydney on Saturday.

Micah Richards has a rather shorter journey. He links up from Villa tonight with England Under-21s, who face Macedonia at Coventry on Friday night in a European Championship qualifier.

Robbie Mak is with Slovakia's Under-21s for their midweek tie in Cyprus, while fellow young pro Gunnar Nielsen keeps goal for the Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifiers in France and Romania.

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Barry crucial to boss' plans

gareth barry

Bringing Gareth Barry to Manchester City was a key building block in Mark Hughes’ plans for reshaping his squad, according to the Blues’ boss.