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EFL international watch

13 October 2021

EFL stars have jetted off to exotic locations to don the colours of their country during the latest set of internationals.

The break has presented a chance for a number of players to shine on the international stage, with notable goals from starlets raised in the EFL to current performers making their bow.

We check in on how the current EFL crop have fared for their respective countries…

Brereton Diaz keeps Chilean World Cup hopes alive

Blackburn Rovers ace Ben Brereton Diaz kept Chile’s World Cup qualification hopes alive in the South American group, netting the opening goal in a 2-0 win over Paraguay at the Estadio Nacional Julio Martinez Pradano.

The 22-year-old, who came alive for La Roja at the Copa America, netted from close range in the second-half, before Mauricio Isla doubled Chile’s advantage.

The Stoke-on-Trent born forward took to social media to express his delight at finding the back of the net, writing: “What an atmosphere. What a moment. Something I will never forget thanks to the team and the fans.”

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Wollacott makes Black Stars bow

It was also a special weekend for Swindon Town goalkeeper Jojo Wollacott who made his international bow for Ghana in a 3-1 victory over Zimbabwe.

Having kept 10 clean sheets for Swindon, who sit third in the Sky Bet League Two standings, to date this season, the Bristol-born shot-stopper was handed his Black Stars debut by manager Milovan Rajevac.

The goalkeeper came through the ranks at Bristol City before making the switch to The County Ground in the summer. And he was also in EFL company alongside Reading full-back Baba Rahman who turned out for Ghana in their World Cup qualifier.

Gyokeres steps up for Zlatan

Sweden’s all-time leading marksman Zlatan Ibrahimovic left Viktor Gyokeres with big boots to fill, after the AC Milan striker was forced to withdraw from Sweden’s World Cup qualifiers due to injury.

However, the Sky Blues’ leading marksman stepped up to take his place, as Gyokeres came off the bench to feature in the country’s 3-0 win over Kosovo in Stockholm.

Johnstone still England’s number one

West Bromwich Albion shot-stopper Sam Johnstone kept a clean sheet as England comfortably beat Andorra 5-0 in Group I, becoming the first current EFL player to feature in a competitive match for the Three Lions since 2007.

The Baggies’ number one beat Nick Pope and Aaron Ramsdale to a place between the sticks, as Gareth Southgate’s men recorded an emphatic win over their World Cup qualification rivals.

The 28-year-old also chipped in with an assist, with his long delivery setting up Jack Grealish for his first England goal to round off the victory with four minutes left on the watch.

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Ogbene makes Republic of Ireland history

The Republic of Ireland’s first African-born international and Rotherham United’s Chiedozie Ogbene marked his second international cap with a goal, as Stephen Kenny’s side cruised to a 3-0 triumph over Azerbaijan.

West Brom forward Callum Robinson was at the double, before Ogbene replaced Adam Idah in the second period, adding Ireland’s third and final strike in the dying moments in Baku.

The pair lined up alongside Portsmouth loanee Gavin Bazunu, Sheffield United’s John Egan, Wigan Athletic attacker James McClean and Daryl Horgan of Wycombe Wanderers.

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Thomas on for dream Cymru debut

Just nine months ago, Sorba Thomas plying his trade in the non-league pyramid and the Huddersfield Town winger would have never dreamed of pulling on a Wales shirt and representing his country on the international stage.

The former Boreham Wood winger has established himself as a mainstay in the Terriers’ side and earned his Cymru debut, coming off the bench in a 2-2 draw with the Czech Republic.

And the 22-year-old won the hearts of Welsh supporters, clutching a shirt signed by his team-mates in his post-match press conference.

Dykes fit and firing for Scotland

In-form striker Lyndon Dykes bagged his fourth goal in as many games for his country as Scotland edged Israel and the Faroe Islands to go second in Group F.

The Queens Park Rangers forward levelled proceedings for Scotland against Israel in a 3-2 victory after John McGinn halved the deficit in the first period, only for his side to seal the victory in dramatic fashion. Leading the line alongside Che Adams, the Australian-born EFL star was joined by Bournemouth midfielder Ryan Christie who was introduced as a substitute in the 68th minute, as Hampden went wild for Scott McTominay’s 94th minute winner.

And yesterday evening, he popped up with another Scotland late winner against the Faroe Islands in the 86th minute to notch the only goal of the game in a slender 1-0 triumph.

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