Will the Town six return unscathed?

IPSWICH TOWN: While the value of international football is being seriously questioned, the Blues will be pleased of a two-week breather.

When the likes of Frank Lampard and Jermain Defoe select a week when England – and not their clubs – are playing to undergo surgery it says all there is to say about how devalued playing for your country has become.

It goes without saying that a top European club side would comfortably beat an international side. Champions League knock-out stage games have much more of an edge and are surrounded by a lot more tension than England versus Bulgaria say.

Modern day players understandably value the rewards they get from club football much more than what is on offer internationally.

And it doesn’t need to be stressed that clubs will exercise extreme caution if one of their players is carrying a knock of any description. If there is any doubt he will be made unavailable to have him ready for the next club match.

England’s dismal display in the World Cup finals in South Africa did nothing to raise the tempo of international football, and fans are slowly but surely coming to the conclusion that watching Fabio Capello’s team is a poor second to watching their favourite club compete for honours in a near weekly schedule of fixtures.

So while meaningful football virtually comes to a halt for the next 11 days, Town manager Roy Keane will not be unduly bothered.

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He will have some concern that the momentum his side has built up since the season began could be broken by the two-week break.

But he will be delighted that the weary troops of his injury-hit and smallish squad will be able to take a break and rest those aches and pains.

Keane will be keeping his fingers crossed the six players he has on current international duty come back unscathed and ready to face bottom-of-the-table Portsmouth at Fratton Park on September 11.

Jaime Peters has the most exhausting schedule as he looks to add to his 22 caps when Canada play friendlies against Peru on Saturday in Toronto and Honduras next Tuesday in Montreal.

The 23-year-old has forged himself a regular place in the Blues side at right back where he is able to combine gritty defending with rapid counter attacking.

Central defensive linchpin Gareth McAuley is currently with Northern Ireland for their Euro 2012 qualifier in Slovenia on Friday while Tamas Priskin and Marton Fulop are with the Hungarian party for their Euro 2012 qualifiers in Sweden away on Friday and Moldova at home next Tuesday.

Darren O’Dea, who is on loan at Portman Road to January from Celtic, is with the Republic of Ireland squad for their qualifiers in Armenia on Friday and against Andorra at home on Tuesday.

The sixth Town senior player on his travels is midfielder Conor Hourihane who has joined up with Republic of Ireland Under-21’s for their final matches in the 2011 UEFA European Championships qualifying campaign. The Irish youngsters travel to face Switzerland on Friday and then Turkey on Tuesday.

The Irish youngsters have no chance of progressing to the finals.

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