Let's start with the World Cup then and Pavel Pogrebnyak's shock inclusion in the preliminary 30-man Russia squad for Brazil. I've been doing international reports for a while now and haven't mentioned the Big Stonking Russian once yet, but he's clearly part of Fabio Capello's plans. Having not played during Capello's tenure, with his last action off the bench in Euro 2012, Pog has a chance to make it to Brazil when Russia play friendlies against Slovakia and Norway before the squad cut-off point on June 2nd.
In Pog's way are 4 fellow strikers, all of which ply their trade in Russia- in fact Pog is the only one in the 30 who doesn't...
The competition he faces is in the form of Alexander Kerhakov, veteran striker with 70+ caps who will surely make the final 23, as will Alexander Kokorin- a Dynamo Moscow 23-year old who has been a regular under Capello and his form for club and country suggests he is certain for a plane ticket. Also in the target man bracket is Artem Dzubya, a 25 year-old striker who has sporadicly earned caps across a stuttering Russian league career before a stand-out season on loan FC Rostov as they won the Russian Cup. Finally, Maksim Kannunikov is the untested youngster to Pavel's experience, uncapped and with potential but not exactly a goalscoring record...
So we'll so how Pog gets on, a goal in the friendlies and perhaps a bit of luck may see him to go Brazil. Simples.
As it turned out, not quite so. Pog didn't even get a chance to impress in a friendly before the 23 man squad was revealed, with Dzubya named as the standby. Sadly, no trip to Brazil for Pavel, and surely the manner with which he and other players were dealt with will leave a bitter taste in the mouth...
Dropping down an age category, and bringing things a lot closer to home, and we find Jordan Obita has made the English U21 squad for a friendly versus Wales and the upcoming Toulon tournament. England won the tournament, which plays 40-minute halves, 4 times in a row in the early 90s and Obita will hope to make an impact in a squad full of first-team Championship players. Having turned out for England U18s and U19s, let's hope this is another part of the progression to making the Official Tilehurst End Player of the Season a Royals great.
An unused substitute in the Wales win, Jordan is part of the squad for the Toulon Tournament which we'll bring a report on when it reaches it's conclusion.
Looking across the Irish Sea it is good to see another U21 call-up for Pierce Sweeney and Shane Griffin who are part of the squad for a friendly against Qatar, which is being held in Germany (answers on a postcard).
Sean Long and Liam Kelly are in the U19s squad for a friendly against Mexico.
The Mexico friendly ended 3-0 defeat for Ireland.
The Scottish U19 training camp included academy players Harry Cardwell, George McLennan and Dom Hyam, before the U19s European Championship in Hungary.
The Scottish U17 team featured Zak Jules and Jake Sheppard, who kicked off their U17 European Championship Group with a win over Germany in Malta. Zak Jules spoke to the Daily Record before the tournament, talking up the Scottish contingent of youngsters at Reading, and his new nickname 'MacJules' after opting to play for Scotland through his Scottish mother.
Scotland crashed out after a 5-0 defeat to Holland in the semi-finals, with both Royals starting and Sheppard scoring in a 3-1 win over Swtizerland in the quarters. A terrific run for Scotland, as the tournament was won by England.
Call-up news now, Alex Pearce and Stephen Kelly are in the Irish squad for friendlies against Turkey, Italy, Costa Rica & Portugal.
Hal Robson-Kanu makes the Welsh squad before a friendly in Amsterdam v Holland on June 4th.
Jonathan Henly is in the U21 squad as Scotland take to a training camp before a European Qualifier against Holland on May 28th.
Sami Fridjonsson will turn out for Iceland U19 in a UEFA Elite Round of the U19 Championship, who are in a group with Rep. of Ireland, Turkey and Iceland. Liam Kelly and Sean Long are in the Ireland squad.
In the same tournament Harry Cardwell, George McLennan and Dom Hyam are in the Scotland squad- they play Ukraine, Montonegro and hosts England.
In less good news, Danny Williams was not fit enough to be part of the considerations for Jurgen Klinsmann's USA squad for the World Cup. The German-born central midfielder told the Official Site that he is focussed on his recovery from injury before the new season, having committed to the Reading cause to dispel doubts over his future.
Ange Postecoglou is not expected to include Adam Federici in his World Cup squad, having not played since January this could be a summer of speculation for Feds.
Alex McCarthy, as I predicted here (and we all knew anyway) was omitted from the 30-man England squad after his call-up last summer.
That's it really, our Brazil hopes rest on Pog. Well, as I write this, the Dutch squad hasn't been announced...
As alluded to before, a full round-up of the summer friendlies action will be reported on when the games have actually taken place.