The last international break before the 2022 Qatar World Cup has arrived. It sucks, because that means there is no Magpie football going, but it also does not suck, because that means there is Magpie football just around the corner, and oh, that also means that there are some International Magpies worth writing about!
Anyway, here’s a recap of all that has been going on in the past few days, with more updates to come in the following days as games keep getting played.
Chris Wood (New Zealand)
Match: NZL vs Australia (International Friendly)
Wood started for New Zealand and New Zealand lost its game against Australia. What a surprise. Anyway, Wood was good to keep piling up historical stats with the Kiwis and enlarging his legendary career at the international level with another game. He couldn’t do a lot, though, with Australia clearly dominating a match that didn't have much story to it.
It was a game with more fouls (30 in total; peep the pic above to get a glimpse of it) than shots (24), with only seven of the latter being on goal and just one (by Awer Mabil in the 32nd minute of the first half) getting into the back of the net.
Return-leg ahead for both teams as they scheduled a doubleheader between them for the international break with the second contest taking place next Sunday.
Ryan Fraser (Scotland)
Match: SCO vs Ukraine (UEFA Nations League, B1)
Does it get any better than this? As many as 14 minutes is all Fraser needed to help Scotland secure three points against Ukraine on Thursday after launching two wonderful corners that ended in the back of the net thanks to strikes by teammate Lyndon Dykes (80th and 87th minutes). Sublime partnership, if only on spot-kicks.
Fraser replaced a good Stuart Armstrong and, even if we’re honest and look at the counting stats of both players, absolutely outperformed the starter thanks to those two assists from the corner. Fraser logged just 10 touches of the ball but completed 3-of-4 passes to go with 3-of-5 successful crosses. He even had the time to get a shot-off goal!
With this game taking place off the originally scheduled date (it had to be postponed earlier this year), Scotland goes on to face two more opponents in the next few days taking on Ireland come Saturday and Ukraine once more on Sept. 27.
Alexander Isak (Sweden)
No game: Injury Update!
Oh, lord. Chris Waugh from The Athletic is reporting that “Alexander Isak has been forced into withdrawing from Sweden’s national team squad after sustaining an injury.“ Not the brightest of news if you ask me.
Isak was called-up by Sweden to lead the forward line of the senior squad against Serbia and Slovenia but he’s now on his way home after picking an injury while training. Last Wednesday it was reported that he was training alone, but it’s now been confirmed that that was the case, in fact, because he had gotten banged up somehow in the Swedish concentration.
The striker said: “I wish the boys the best of luck on Saturday and Tuesday” adding that “it feels very sad to have to leave the team.”
Newcastle is coming back to action on Sunday, Oct. 2 against Fulham and there are hopes to have Callum Wilson available then and there, but that won’t be as impactful a return as it’d be if Wilson can be paired with Isak at the top of the lineup. We’ll keep a close eye on this news to see how Isak’s recovery goes in the next few hours and days.
No game: Injury Update!
Okay, so this one came out of the absolute blue. In the same report by Waugh from Thursday, the journalist reported that Bruno “is understood to have suffered a minor thigh issue” and that the midfielder “is expected to sit out Brazil’s friendly with Ghana on Friday.”
Bruno’s injury, whichever it actually is, definitely seems to be much lighter and less worrying than that of Isak given that he’s not left the Brazilian training camp and should/could still play in the second half the Canarinha will play against Tunisia next week.
Even then, Bruno just came back from another injury last weekend when he reappeared for the Magpies to face Bournemouth. This is definitely not music to Eddie Howe’s ears, and even though we don’t have a legitimate report, we can almost confirm the anxiety levels might be rising in Newcastle's HQ while all members of the coaching staff wait for the break to be over once for all and everything to get back to its normal self—to the extent that’s possible this campaign.