The preparation is almost over and the competitive international football is about to begin. The latest round of international friendlies is at an end and six Brentford players racked up 11 international appearances between them over the past two weeks. There are tournaments looming for four of them – including, possibly, Brentford’s first ever World Cup player – but for most the recent international games marked the end of the 2018/19 season.
In total, nine Brentford players have been away with their national teams since the end of the domestic season with countries preparing for youth tournaments, playing in invitation competitions and gearing up for new campaigns to start in the autumn. For Brentford defenders Henrik Dalsgaard and Andreas Bjelland, there was the chance to earn a place in the Denmark squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which starts in Russia this week. Unfortunately, Andreas picked up an injury that meant he was left out of the final squad but Henrik played for his country in friendlies against Sweden and Mexico and will now be heading to Russia and is the first man contracted to Brentford FC to be named in a World Cup squad.
There was also a big moment on the international stage for Alan Judge. The attacking midfield player came on as a substitute as Republic of Ireland were beaten by France and then did so again against the United States of America. On that occasion, he scored the winning goal – his first for his country – as he earned his fourth cap, his third in the past three months since he returned from a serious leg break. Defender John Egan was also in the squad but did not play in either international. He did, however, play in a game against Celtic at the end of May, a testimonial match for Scott Brown.
There was a first start at international level for Chris Mepham. The central defender earned his second cap for Wales in a 0-0 draw with Mexico last month and earned rave reviews for his performance. World-Cup bound Mexico had the better of the game but Chris helped keep them out in the match, played in Pasadena.
There were also Brentford B players involved in youth internationals, three of whom are preparing for a major tournament. Ellery Balcombe has been with two England squads over the past few weeks. He was part of an Under-19 training camp with the team preparing for the upcoming 2018 UEFA European Under-19 Championships in Finland. Ellery then joined up with the Under-21 squad at the Toulon Tournament. He trained with the squad as they won the tournament by beating Mexico in the Final on Saturday.
Brentford B pair Marcus Forss and Jaakko Oksanen are also preparing for the European Under-19 Championships. They are aiming to get in to the squad for host nation Finland for the competition, which is played next month. Marcus captained Finland in two games against Montenegro Under-20 last week. He scored in the second, which Finland won after losing the first. Jaakko came on as a substitute in the first and started the second, which Finland won 3-0.
The final Brentford player away on international duty was B Team defender David Titov. He was called in to the Latvia squad for the Under-19 Baltic Cup. Latvia won all three games, beating Lithuania, Estonia and Finland – who sent an Under-18 squad. David played in two of the three games, winning his first caps after appearing in a training game in March.