With only four more spots remaining for the 24-team European Championships next summer, a number of Premier League stars will be in action on Thursday night, as eight countries will be battling it out for their place amongst the European elite.
With both England and Wales already qualified for the group stages of the competition, both Scotland and Northern Ireland will be hoping to add to the list of home nations competing in the Euros, which are expected to begin on the 11th June 2021.
A wide range of Premier League players will be representing their nations across various European stadiums next year, but which players are still aiming to book their place via the play-offs on Thursday night?
Northern Ireland v Slovakia
Five Premier League players look set to feature in Belfast, four of which will be representing the Green and White army. Leicester City’s Jonny Evans will be alongside Newcastle’s summer signing Jamal Lewis in the defence, whilst the versatile Stuart Dallas will be looking to carry on his good form with Leeds United into the international stage.
Behind them in goal will be Burnley’s Bailey Peacock-Farrell, and despite his lack of appearances for the Clarets, he has produced some tremendous performances for Ian Baraclough’s side, and Northern Irish fans will no doubt be hoping for the same again tomorrow night.
Manchester United’s Ethan Galbraith and Arsenal’s Daniel Ballard (on loan at Blackpool) are also part of the squad but are not expected to be in the starting line-up.
Meanwhile, the only Slovakian player to currently ply their trade in England’s top division is Newcastle’s Martin Dubravka, who will be hoping to come out on top against his club teammate Lewis.
Whilst there are no other current Premier League players in the Slovakia squad list, FC Koln’s Ondrej Duda, who spent six months on loan at relegated Norwich City last season, will provide a threat to the Northern Irish backline. Former Chelsea youngster Miroslav Stoch is also included, however former Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel misses out with a muscle injury.
Serbia v Scotland
Scottish fans will be dreaming of a return to a major international tournament for the first time since 1998, as they go up against a stern Serbia side. Despite their struggles over the past few years, a number of Premier League regulars are available to play, as Scotland look to end 22 years of pain.
Liverpool’s Andy Robertson will lead the players out in Belgrade, whilst fellow defenders Liam Cooper and Kieran Tierney are expected to line-up alongside the skipper.
Manchester United’s Scott McTominay is also anticipated to start, as is John McGinn who has shone this season under the stewardship of Dean Smith at Aston Villa. Sheffield United duo Oliver Burke and Oli McBurnie will be looking to convince Steve Clarke to start them in attack, whilst club teammate John Fleck misses out with a back problem.
Southampton’s Stuart Armstrong will also be hopeful of a start, following his goal in the Saints 2-0 win over Newcastle United last Friday. Ryan Fraser sat out that fixture with a hamstring issue, which hasn’t healed in time for the play-offs.
Their Serbian opponents also boast an array of fine talents, but only two players in their squad hail from Premier League clubs. Crystal Palace’s penalty specialist Luka Milivojevic is amongst their ranks, as is Fulham’s number nine Aleksandar Mitrovic, who has two league goals to his name already this campaign.
They will be joined in Belgrade by former Premier League stars Aleksandar Kolarov, Dusan Tadic and Marko Grujic.
Hungary v Iceland
There are three current Premier League players that may feature in this play-off clash, with Everton’s Gylfi Sigurðsson looking to provide the magic needed to send Iceland to their third successive major international tournament.
Burnley’s Johann Berg Gudmundsson has struggled for fitness lately but has been given the all-clear by Sean Dyche to fly out with the Icelandic squad. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson is also named in the squad list, after making his debut for Arsenal in the 3-0 win over Dundalk in the Europa League.
Sv Darmstadt’s Victor Palsson may also sound familiar, as he used to be on the books at Liverpool back in 2010.
There are no members of the Hungarian squad that play their football in England’s top league, however, fans will certainty recognise RB Leipzig’s Peter Gulacsi in goal, who was also once contracted to the Reds before making the switch over to Germany.
Georgia v North Macedonia
The final play-off fixtures features only one player from the Premier League, and that is Leeds United winger Ezgjan Alioski, who has made six appearances in the top flight this season.