TWO Sunderland players will continue their return to full fitness with their countries.
David Vaughan and Craig Gordon have been named in the Wales and Scotland squads respectively for next week’s friendlies.
Midfielder Vaughan is recovering from an ankle problem and may feature in Saturday’s trip to West Brom.
Goalkeeper Gordon has been available for some time after a summer knee operation, but Simon Mignolet and Keiren Westwood’s greater match-fitness means he has played in the reserves.
Martin O’Neill has left open the option of loaning Gordon, whose contract expires this summer, to give him first-team match practice, so he will be delighted if the 29-year-old plays some part in Slovenia a week tomorrow.
That looks unlikely, but the news should at least boost Gordon’s morale.
“Craig is an important player for us,” said Scotland manager Craig Levein. “He has had a terrible time with injury but is back playing reserves matches.
“I feel it would be a good time to give him a boost.
“In all likelihood he will be third-choice goalkeeper, but there is no doubt Gordon is very much in my thoughts when it comes to September and he is back playing on a regular basis.”
Wales’ match against Costa Rica is new manager Chris Coleman’s first in charge and is being played as a tribute to predecessor Gary Speed, who died in November.
Vaughan was the first player to find the net under O’Neill in the first of ten consecutive starts before his injury.
Westwood, James McClean, John O’Shea (Republic of Ireland), Mignolet (Belgium), Phil Bardsley (Scotland), Nicklas Bendtner (Denmark), Ahmed Elmohamady (Egypt) and Stéphane Sessègnon (Benin) have also been called up by their countries.
Meanwhile, the vice-president of the Ghana Football Association expects Asamoah Gyan to return to international football in September.
The Sunderland striker, on loan at Al-Ain, is taking a break from the international game after missing a penalty in Ghana’s 1-0 African Cup of Nations semi-final defeat to Zambia.
He also missed a spot kick as the Black Stars were knocked out of the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals by Uruguay, although he scored in the subsequent penalty shoot-out.
Gyan complained of “intolerable abuse” when announcing his decision, but promised “to come back bigger and stronger”.
Jordan Anagbla said: “It is a hard time for him, but he will be back for us in September.”