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Football League players shine for the home nations

15 October 2014

The Football League wasn't short of representation in the latest round of Euro 2016 qualifiers and players from the home nations in particular contributed to positive results.

Wales’ hopes of reaching their first major tournament for several decades were handed a significant boost as they took four points from their two fixtures in Group B.

Ipswich Town's Jonny Williams, on loan from Crystal Palace, starred in the 0-0 draw with Bosnia and Herzegovina on Friday evening, and on Tuesday Fulham youngster George Williams made an impressive full debut against Cyprus, in a 2-1 win that was settled by goals from Birmingham City’s David Cotterill and Reading’s Hal Robson-Kanu.

Northern Ireland have given themselves a great chance of qualifying for Euro 2016 after beating both the Faroe Islands and Greece 2-0.

Norwich City front man Kyle Lafferty bagged his first goals of the season, scoring one in each match, whilst Derby County's Jamie Ward added to his five Sky Bet Championship goals this term by scoring in Athens on Tuesday.

Notts County goalkeeper Roy Carroll, who was nominated for the Sky Bet League 1 Player of the Month award for September, was between the sticks in both games, keeping two clean sheets.

Brighton & Hove Albion defender Aaron Hughes, Reading midfielder Oliver Norwood and Fleetwood Town’s Conor McLaughlin also figured for Michael O'Neill's men, who now sit top of Group F with a maximum haul of nine points from three games.

Shaun Maloney of Wigan Athletic was highly influential for Scotland as they took four points from their two qualifiers in Group D.

Maloney’s fierce strike led to the only goal of the game against Georgia at Ibrox, before the 31-year-old netted in the 2-2 draw with Poland in Warsaw on Tuesday.

Watford winger Ikechi Anya and Cardiff City goalkeeper David Marshall also completed 90 minutes for the Scots, who sit level in their group's table with World Cup winners Germany.

In addition to the home nations, the Republic of Ireland also had a handful of Football League players on show as they faced contrasting levels of opposition.

Wigan’s James McClean scored twice and Norwich’s Wes Hoolahan also netted in their 7-0 mauling of Gibraltar at the weekend, while Derby County’s Jeff Hendrick came on as a substitute in the dramatic 1-1 draw with Germany in midweek.

The international break was topped off with another positive for the Rams when Will Hughes scored the winning goal in England Under-21’s match against Croatia on Tuesday, to help the young Lions book their place in next year’s European Championships in the Czech Republic.

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