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Albion international preview

12 June 2015

Your Baggies guide to this weekend and coming weeks

THE domestic season may have finished three weeks ago but Albion’s international contingent have been far from relaxing on a beach.

This weekend marks a crucial stage in qualifying for next summer’s European Championships in France – while also on the horizon is the Under-21 Euros and CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Here’s the lowdown on those involved for their respective nations this weekend and also over the coming weeks.

Skipper Darren Fletcher and fellow Baggies midfielder James Morrison face a crunch clash against the Republic of Irleland in Dublin on Saturday (ko 5pm). Scotland currently sit third in Euro 2016 qualifying Group D, one point off the summit but just two points ahead of Saturday's opponents. 

Chris Brunt and Gareth McAuley, along with outgoing Albion team-mate Chris Baird, also face a huge test against Euro 2016 qualifying Group F leaders Romania in Belfast on Saturday (ko 7.45pm). Northern Ireland are just one point adrift of their rivals as the top two go head-to-head at Windsor Park. 

Jonas Olsson is back in the fold with Sweden and they play host to Montenegro on Sunday (ko 7.45pm). Sweden currently occupy second place in Euro 2016 qualifying Group G behind runaway leaders Austria, four points ahead of Montenegro.

Saido Berahino is preparing to fly out to the Czech Republic for the U21 European Championships. The Albion striker played an hour of England’s final warm-up friendly last night, a 1-0 victory over Belarus at Oakwell. The Young Lions take on Portugal (June 18), Sweden (June 21) and Italy (June 24) in their Group B games and, should they progress, would be involved in a semi-final (June 27) and potential final (June 30). 

Having started against both Colombia and Spain in recent warm-up matches, Cristian Gamboa will face Mexico on June 27. It is Costa Rica’s final fixture before their CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign gets underway with three Group B fixtures against Jamaica (July 8), El Salvador (July 11) and Canada (July 14). The top two teams from three groups, along with the two best third-placed sides, progress to the quarter-finals.

Good luck to all involved!

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