Time to breathe a sigh of relief as Norwich City’s stars return from international duty

I told you I'd score... Kyle Lafferty (left) making, possibly, his point to Lewis Grabban. Picture b

I told you I'd score... Kyle Lafferty (left) making, possibly, his point to Lewis Grabban. Picture by Stefano Gnech/Focus Images - Credit: Stefano Gnech/Focus Images Ltd

Apparently, as someone took the time to point out on Twitter, it was only two minnows doing battle – but still, it was almost surprising how entertaining it was to watch England's win in Switzerland.

International football is in a funny place at the moment. There hasn't been much in the way of cheer for the home nations in almost 20 years.

And of course, the organising bodies are being criticised – and rightly – for just about every decision being taken. Especially where the finals of these prestigious competitions end up being played.

It's also debatable – and has been for years – whether international football carries the same caché as when it was truly the pinnacle of the sport. You would imagine the Champions League, in terms of quality, holds that now.

I think we all know how Brendan Rodgers feels about the international environment at the moment, given Daniel Sturridge's 'avoidable' injury that now sees him set to miss Premier League and Champions League games for Liverpool.


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Indeed, it was interesting to hear from Iwan Roberts on our Mustard TV Norwich City show Three Up Front (excuse the plug) during the international break, talking about how players won't train as hard with their national side as they would back at home with their clubs.

All in all, you can understand why club managers don't want the best players – as tends to inevitably be the case – out of their sight and in the hands of others, only to return injured. They then have to pick up the pieces and fill the holes – which is never ideal, when you are in one of the most tenuous of professions.

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Of course, the international set-up can be useful sometimes too.

Watch the latest episode of Mustard TV's Norwich City fanzine, Three Up front

While being limited to just 20 minutes of Netherlands action due to a hamstring injury at the summer's World Cup, that huge impact – and goal – for Leroy Fer probably doubled the fee the Canaries could command from QPR.

As for the international break just gone, City boss Neil Adams can cut a relieved figure.

Not only were there no major injury scares, but most of his players will have done their confidence plenty of good.

Be it Josh Murphy and Nathan Redmond catching the eye at England Under-20 and Under-21 levels, Russell Martin briefly wearing the Scotland armband against the world champions or Kyle Lafferty making an 81st minute equaliser and scoring the 88th minute winner for Northern Ireland in Hungary, City's players left Colney in high spirits and should arrive back with that – and their fitness – in tact.

And for any international break, that's about the best you can hope for.

• JUST SAYING…

It was almost a complete meltdown this time last year, as Stonewall tried to get football involved in its rainbow laces campaign aimed at combating homophobic abuse in the game.

The squabble threatened to overshadow the original point – but… It did at least make sure everyone caught what was trying to be done. And ultimately, that led us to here – a well put-together rainbow laces campaign with no excuses for any footballer to ignore supporting it or wearing them.

Quite simply, football is still behind the rest of society on the issue – and this weekend can go some way to closing that gap.

And you can watch Stonewall's rainbow laces campaign video featuring players from Arsenal towards the top of this column. Enjoy!

• Follow Michael Bailey on Twitter @michaeljbailey

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