Once again, the big story of the international break revolves around Yohan Cabaye's participation and what that means for his match fitness. Follow the jump for news on how Cabaye and several other Newcastle players did over the break.
Yohan Cabaye sat on the bench for France's 1-0 victory over the United States in Paris last Friday, but played in Tuesday's 0-0 draw with Belgium that saw Yann M'Vila stretchered off after he collided with Eden Hazard. Strangely enough, the most encouraging sign is probably that Cabaye took a hard challenge in the first half but soldiered on to play all 90 minutes. He later took a tough challenge from Marouane Fellaini and once again managed to find a way to play, even barely missing with a shot that beat Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. Sports Illustrated's match report describes the extent of Cabaye's impact on the game:
Ribery failed to make an impact in the early stages, seemingly unsure whether to pass or shoot when he got near the Belgium penalty area. But when Cabaye picked him out with a cushioned 50-yard, cross-field pass that landed perfectly at his feet, Ribery at least forced Courtois into action with a curling shot from the edge of the area.
By all appearances, it seems as if Cabaye is ready to play at 100% again.
Demba Ba played a full 90 minutes as Senegal defeated Guinea 4-1, serving notice that they are serious contenders for the Africa Cup of Nations. Their subsequent friendly against Côte d'Ivoire was canceled when their plane was delayed.
Sammy Ameobi earned his first cap with the England U21 team, playing 78 minutes as a substitute as they defeated Iceland 5-0. He started their next game against Belgium, a 2-1 loss, and played 62 minutes. England nevertheless sit at the top of their Euro qualifying group, leading by a fairly comfortable margin. The reviews of Sammy's performances were very positive.
Haris Vuckic started and played 89 for the Slovenia U21s, who defeated Lithuania 2-0 to climb to the top of their Euro qualifying group.
Joan Simun Edmundsson played all 90 minutes for the Faroe Islands U21 team last Friday as they lost to Macedonia 1-0. Editorial newsflash: Faroe Islands are a poor team. Macedonia had failed to record a win in 11 straight matches before Friday. The Faroese have sit in last place in their group with 1 point, having played 5 games.
Shane Ferguson played 79 minutes in Northern Ireland's 2-0 defeat to Serbia and was carded in the 68th minute. Earlier this week, he pledged his support to Northern Ireland, even as the Republic covets his services.
Davide Santon sat on the bench for both of the Italian U-21 matches. They defeated Turkey 2-0 and Hungary 2-0 as they won their Euro qualifying group. Tim Krul was an unused substitute in both of Holland's games, a 0-0 draw with Switzerland and a 3-0 loss to Germany.
Mehdi Abeid was not selected for the Algeria U23 friendlies against South Africa's Olympic team, and Cheik Tiote was similarly not selected for Côte d'Ivoire's game against South Africa. Jonas Gutierrez was left off the Argentina squad as they began CONMEBOL qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. Leon Best's injury kept him off The Republic of Ireland's team sheet as they defeated Estonia 5-1 (agg) to advance to the Euro 2012 tournament.