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Friday 11th September 2015

SPFL stars on international duty

A host of SPFL players were involved in international duty over the course of the last week – Craig Fowler looks at how some of them got on.

A host of SPFL players were involved in international duty over the course of the last week – Craig Fowler looks at how some of them got on.

Nir Bitton (Celtic and Israel)
The towering midfielder had quite an impact in Israel's Euro 2016 qualification victory over Andorra. Bitton's long-range effort led to the opening goal after the visiting goalkeeper failed to clear it sufficiently. He then got on the scoresheet himself after nodding in a cross from a free-kick. Israel ran out 4-0 winners before ending the double-header with a 0-0 draw away at Wales. Bitton played in that match also, even picking up a booking for his troubles.

Dedryck Boyata (Celtic and Belgium)
The Hoops centre-back was an unused substitute in his country's 3-1 victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina, a win that kept them within touching distance of Wales at the top of Group B. The player was then omitted from the bench for the second game against Cyprus, which Belgium won 1-0.

Liam Boyce (Ross County and Northern Ireland)
The on-fire County striker's recent form got him into the squad but he'll have to be patient for his next chance in the team after sitting on the bench for both of Northern Ireland's qualification games.

Scott Brown (Celtic and Scotland)
The Scotland captain admitted the team's display was not good enough in the 1-0 defeat to Georgia last Friday. The midfielder and the rest of his team-mates lifted their performance for the visit of the world champions but it wasn't enough to prevent a second successive defeat.

Owain Fon Williams (Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Wales)
Like Danny Ward, Fon Williams had to be content with a place among the substitutes in both of Wales' European Championships qualifiers. The Dragons won 1-0 in Cyprus before the stalemate with Israel.

James Forrest (Celtic and Scotland)
Came on as a substitute in the loss to Georgia, but showed enough to merit a start against Germany. He caused the opposing full-back problems with his pace and direct running, but unfortunately couldn't have any influence on the end result.

Luca Gasparotto (Morton and Canada)
The on-loan Rangers centre-back was among the substitutes for both of Canada's games in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying double-header with Belize. Gasparotto didn't get on to the field as his team-mates won the first game 3-0 at home before drawing the second match 1-1.

Craig Gordon (Celtic and Scotland)
Gordon watched on as former Hoops stopper David Marshall played both of Scotland's Euro 2016 qualification defeats.

Leigh Griffiths (Celtic and Scotland)
The in-form striker is the subject of intense debate regarding the Scottish national team, particularly the team selection, after he played only 15 minutes across the two Scotland games.

Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic and Honduras)
The Celtic left-back travelled over for a couple of friendly encounters, though he was rewarded at the end of the first game against Venezuela when he was allowed to take a penalty. Izaguirre confidently stepped up and blasted the ball into the roof of the net to complete a 3-0 win. Things were less positive in the next match against Ecuador where the side lost 2-0. Izaguirre only played the first half of that match.

Jackson Irvine (Ross County and Australia)
Irvine came on as sub in Australia's World Cup qualifier against Bangladesh, which the Socceroos won 5-0. He was an unused sub for the second match, a 3-0 win over Tajikistan.

Stefan Johansen (Celtic and Norway)
Johansen assisted Norway's winning goal in the Euro 2016 qualifier in Bulgaria. The Celtic playmaker lofted in a delicate cross from a free-kick, which allowed Vegard Forren to volley home from close range. He then started again in his country's 2-0 home win over Croatia.

Antons Kurakins (Hamilton Academical and Latvia)
The full-back sat on the bench for both of Latvia's qualifying games. The first was a good 1-1 draw in Turkey, before a more disappointing 2-1 defeat at home to the Czech Republic.

Josh Magennis (Kilmarnock and Northern Ireland)
Big Josh started among the subs in both matches, but on each occasion he was sent on with a view to changing the game for Northern Ireland. He certainly made his impact felt in the 3-1 win in the Faroe Islands, where he crossed for Kyle Lafferty to score the game-sealing third goal.

Alan Mannus (St Johnstone and Northern Ireland)
Back-up to Hamilton Accies shot-stopper Michael McGovern, Mannus sat on the bench for both of his country's Euro 2016 qualifiers.

Niall McGinn (Aberdeen and Northern Ireland)
The Dons attacker played the full 90 minutes of the crucial 3-1 victory in the Faroe Islands. He then came off the bench to help his side snatch a point from the second game of their double-header against Hungary.

Michael McGovern (Hamilton Academical and Northern Ireland)
McGovern is first choice keeper for the team who are currently sitting top of Group F and in pole position to qualify for the Euros. Things began well enough with a win at the Faroe Islands but the Hamilton No 1 was thankful to former Rangers striker Kyle Lafferty for bailing him out after a dropped cross gifted Hungary's opener in the 1-1 draw at Windsor Park.

Ryan McGowan (Dundee United and Australia)
Just like at the 2014 World Cup, McGowan provided the cross for a Tim Cahill goal. On this occasion it was a low ball across goal following a lovely bending run on the overlap to put the Aussies two up against Tajikistan. They would go on to win 3-0 in the World Cup qualifier, which took place a few days after they had thumped Bangladesh at home.

Billy McKay (Dundee United and Northern Ireland)
New Dundee United hitman McKay remained on the bench for both of Northern Ireland's qualification matches.

Charlie Mulgrew (Celtic and Scotland)
Started at centre-half in Tbilisi before being shifted out to left-back but could not prevent a Scotland defeat. Upped his game considerably for the visit of the world champions where he was involved in the build-up to both goals.

Josh Parker (Aberdeen and Antigua and Barbuda)
Aberdeen's recent loan signing from Red Star Belgrade played both fixtures in Antigua and Barbuda's double-header with Guatemala in the CONCACAF World Cup qualification. Parker, who is captain of the team, played the full 90 minutes in both games as Antigua and Barbuda secured a 1-0 win in the first fixture before losing 2-0 in Guatemala.

Tom Rogic (Celtic and Australia)
The midfielder found the back of the net twice in the space of a minute in Australia's World Cup qualification match with Bangladesh, though the second effort counted as an own goal after a heavy deflection. Australia would go on to win 5-0 before following that up with a 3-0 win in Tajikistan, a match where Rogic started as a sub before playing the final 22 minutes.

Danny Ward (Aberdeen and Wales)
The Aberdeen keeper, on loan from Liverpool, was one of thousands of Welsh people who watched on as the team came agonisingly close to securing at place at France next summer with the 0-0 draw with Israel. Danny and the Dragons are still in a prime position to qualify, however, needing just one point from their final two games.