Januzaj poised to replace Hazard
Adnan Januzaj has a chance of a late call-up to the Belgium team to replace Eden Hazard.
The Chelsea midfielder has been forced to withdraw from Roberto Martinez' squad with a calf injury. Belgium will face Greece in a World Cup Qualifier on Saturday then travel to Russia for a friendly next week. Martinez likely has two options to replace Hazard - current Sunderland loanee Januzaj or Hazard's brother, Thorgan.
Eden and Adnan are mates of course, having spent time together during the last English fixture break.
Adnan Januzaj catches up with Eden Hazard pic.twitter.com/cy6ir98kpR— Chelsea (@ouggi) March 10, 2017
The Chelsea star's sibling plays for Borussia Monchengladbach and returned to first team action after an injury lay-off in Sunday's match against Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich. The lesser known Hazard brother is 23-years-old and was also at Stamford Bridge before leaving for Germany in 2015.
Januzaj has been a regular for Sunderland since his return from injury in late December. Despite not finding the net or offering much in the way of assists - except for his hand in two goals at Crystal Palace - the Manchester United player has found a bit of form in a red-and-white shirt of late - even if he is still dogged by inconsistency.
The 22-year-old hasn't featured for Belgium since the summer of 2015 but after Sunderland's four-goal-victory at Selhurst Park, national team coach Martinez admitted he was considering recalling Januzaj.
Elsewhere on international duty
Lamine Kone has withdrawn from the Ivory Coast squad which will play friendlies with Russia and Senegal. The Sunderland defender twisted his knee in training last week and missed Saturday's goalless draw with Burnley.
David Moyes indicated that the centre-half should be fit to face Watford at Vicarage Road a week on Saturday. He will remain on Wearside this week to receive treatment.
Jermain Defoe is gearing up for his weekend back in the England squad. The Sunderland striker did some media work for the Three Lions yesterday.
The reality of impending relegation was brought home to all Sunderland fans yesterday when Defoe suggested he would likely have to leave the Stadium of Light in the summer to have any chance of making next summer's World Cup squad should the Black Cats succumb to the drop.
Sebastian Larsson has told the media in Sweden that the prospect of earning a recall to his nation's side was 'the carrot' during his Autumn exile from international duty. The Sunderland midfielder missed seven games for his country following knee surgery immediately after Euro 2016.
The 31-year-old is part of Janne Andersson's squad which will face Belarus in a World Cup Qualifier on Saturday before travelling to Portugal for a friendly.
Jordan Pickford will be in goal when the England 'Young Lions' take on Germany in a friendly on Friday, while Javier Manquillo is part of the Spanish Under-21 set-up which plays Denmark on Thursday.
Darron Gibson is unlikely to be in the starting eleven for the Republic of Ireland when they face Wales this Friday. The 29-year-old has earned his first call-up to Martin O'Neill's squad since May last year. Having only just returned to regular Premier League action since his January switch to Sunderland, the midfielder might have to settle for a run-out when the Irish take on Iceland in a friendly next week.
John O'Shea has a decent chance of captaining his country from the start of that massive game with the Welsh.
Newcasle's Ciaran Clark has been ruled out of the game through injury and other suitors to the Sunderland man's king-at-the-back crown include Derby's Richard Keogh and Alex Pearce as well as former Black Cat Paul McShane - now at Reading. But none of that trio have regularly impressed at international level and O'Shea has continued to perform relatively well in the Premier League for Sunderland. His experience and continued top flight showings are a plus for O'Neill.
No place for Lyndon Gooch in the USA squad which takes on Honduras on Saturday and Panama next week in friendly fixtures. And Gabon are scheduled to play Guinea on Friday, so presumably Didier Ndong will feature for his country but no selection news has been made public by the African nation's football federation as yet.
Meanwhile in a Turkish restaurant in Sunderland...
According to one report in Turkey, Besiktas representatives were on Wearside at the end of last week to discuss a bid for Sunderland's want-away-winger Jeremain Lens.
The Turkish league leaders are thought to be keen to snatch the Dutchman off Fenerbahçe in the summer and are rumoured to be prepared to offer defensive midfielder Tolgay Arslan in return.
The article in question even claims the Besiktas entourage were taken out for a meal in a Sunderland Turkish restaurant by Black Cats executives.