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International Roundup: Wickham On The Scoresheet Yet Again

Join us as we recap all the Sunderland players performances during the recent round of international friendlies, including everyone from Jordan Pickford to Seb Larsson and everyone in between.

Alex Livesey

The midweek international action kicked off with the youth set-ups, meaning involvement from our perspective for Connor Wickham, Jordan Pickford and Lynden Gooch.

Starting off with Wickham, he got himself on the scoresheet for England's Under-21 team in their 2-0 victory over their Northern Irish counterparts at Blackpool's Bloomfield Road.

The striker's first involvement in the game was to crash an effort back off the bar having been played in by Jack Robinson, unlucky not to open the scoring.

His next major incident though also involved another Liverpool player as Wickham clashed heads with Andre Wisdom, and was forced off the pitch for a while to receive treatment - eight stitches we were later told.

Back on the pitch though it was one way traffic, and Wickham dominating the inexperienced Northern Irish defence, so it was no surprise when he opened the scoring, heading home a freekick from Jordan Henderson, who found Wickham inside the six-yard box for his second goal in as many games for the Young Lions.

What was noticeable about Wickham's performance was that he really has begun to use his body well, holding things up and bringing people into play. Dare we say it, Fletcher-lite. Certainly something for Martin O'Neill to think about in the coming weeks.

England's Under-19 side, featuring a starting role for Jordan Pickford, left it to the last minute to record a 1-0 win over Finland.

Our third choice 'keeper was forced into a good save within the first ten minutes to stop well from Jesper Brechtel, denying a clear cut goalscoring opportunity for the visitors.

That was about his only involvement however before being replaced t half time by Ben Garratt.

Also on Tuesday night Lynden Gooch made his debut for Ireland's Under-18 side against Switzerland. The side lost 1-0 to a tough team way in the Alps, with Gooch coming on as a 74th minute substitute but wasn't particularly involved.

In other Irish news the senior side were downed 1-0 at home by Greece in what was in large a poor outing for the side, and notably for Sunderland involvement in the game.

John O'Shea and James McClean both started the game, while Keiren Westwood was not selected and David Meyler appeared as a late substitute.

O'Shea started in the middle of defence alongside Ciaran Clark, and his first incident was to smash Giorgios Samaras in the face with a stray elbow. It looked accidental, but players have in the past been sent off for less as Samaras left the pitch to get patched up and stop the bleeding.

Seemingly O'Shea got his comeuppance later though as he played a part in the Greeks only goal. Jose Holebas collected Samaras' ball through, Holebas turned O'Shea with ease and slotted beyond David Forde. O'Shea getting turned easily is something that we're seeing all too often this season.

Things seemed to settle down for him then as the Greeks held their lead and seemed happy enough with that. O'Shea could have had himself on the scoresheet on 72 minutes as he connected with a Wes Hoolahan freekick, but the covering defender managed to... well, cover.

James McClean seemed to have a decent game though. Not his best, but certainly closer to what we've come to expect form him.

McClean sent in numerous fizzing crosses which on at least one occasion should have been connected with, and also had a decent shout for a penalty when his cross looked to have been blocked with an arm early on in the game. Overall - despite the result - he can be reasonably happy with his performance last night.

David Meyler - now on loan at Hull City - also appeared as a substitute for James McCarthy in the middle of midfield late on, but didn't offer much other than doing what he usually does - keeping it simple and not testing things too much.

Over to Stockholm and Seb Larsson's involvement in his side's 4-2 victory over England to open the Friends Arena.

Larsson started on the right before later being moved to right-back as the Swedes went about over turning the 2-1 deficit they faced. Larsson did alright in both roles, nothing overly outstanding. He fired in a few dangerous freekicks and knocked a few decent balls in to Zlatan Ibramahimovic, who failed to convert any of them. Although he still managed to score four times, including one absolute peach. It had nothing to do with Larsson at all, but my word, what a strike.

Simon Mignolet made a rare start for Belgium in a changed side as they faced Romania in Bucharest, and found himself tasting defeat as the hosts won 2-1.

Mignolet was beaten first by a well placed strike by Alexandrou Maxim from the edge of the area. Later Mignolet found himself with nothing he could do to stop Gabriel Torje's thunderous penalty, diving the wrong way.

It was good for him to get 90 minutes under his belt for his national side having been ousted as the number one by Thibault Courtois in recent months, but it's unlikely on the strength of last night he'll be back out there any time soon.

Steven Fletcher and Phil Bardsley both withdrew from Scotland's 2-1 victory in Luxembourg, while Ji Dong-Won was not selected by South Korea for their 2-1 defeat at the hands of Australia.

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