Despite a shaky start, West Ham United is brimming with international talent. It's so great to see East London represe... you know what? I'm sorry. I can't do this. Look, I love when our Hammers get picked but, between you and me, I hope none of them start a match. Why? We're one high ankle sprain away from becoming an official sports medicine teaching hospital. Sure, I get it. Fulfilling your childhood dream by having the chance to represent club and country at the international stage could be the pinnacle of any player's career. But what about my dreams, eh?! So selfish... With that, we check in on the international break and see how our boys are doing in a segment we like to call... "Hammer Watch... International!"
Michail Antonio - England
Let's be honest. They may whine and complain about time away from the club, training hours, and the travel - but the bankroll behind most Premier League clubs love when a player is distinguished internationally. Hammers co-chairman David Gold wrote:
"I want to wish Michail Antonio the best of luck as England prepare to play their first World Cup qualifier at Wembley against Malta on Saturday." He goes on to say "There is a new man in charge and I am sure Michail will be keen to impress...".
While he was all smiles in training, Antonio watched the match against Malta from the bench and did the same against a disappointing draw against Slovenia.
Darren Randolph - Ireland
With Adrien not being on top of his game as of late, what a great time for Darren Randolph to be given the nod from Slaven Bilic. Ireland currently sit on top of Group D after taking 7 points out of a possible 9. Randolph led the Irish to a clean sheet in a 1-0 win over Georgia and then cruised to a 3-1 victory against Moldova. When asked if he was content with 7 points Randolph responded:
No, I'd have settled for nine out of nine, but I'll take seven. Undefeated, two wins and a draw, sitting joint-top - you can't ask for much more, really.
James Collins - Wales
There have been grumblings lately regarding James Collins' future at West Ham United. While I don't believe those rumors hold water, an international stage is the perfect place to raise your stock, given the chance. Unfortunately, that chance never came to fruition as Collins spent both matches on the bench. Wales remains tied on top of Group D - with another qualifying match against Serbia in November.
Angelo Ogbonna - Italy
Angelo Ogbonna received a lot of criticism from Italian fans back in June when he came on as a sub in Italy's match against Ireland. Many fans were surprised when Italy's new boss Giampiero Ventura tapped Ogbonna to join the team against Macedonia. While Italy snuck by with a 3-2 win, Angelo sat on the sidelines. Should be interesting to see if he gets the call against Lichtenstein in November. Our guess? Probably.
Dimitri Payet - France
I'm always woefully conflicted when it comes to Dimitri and Les Bleus. On the one hand, I love when he excels. He's a crafty playmaker who is seemingly integral to France's success. On the other, the better he gets the more demand he's going to attract. Of course, in their 1-0 victory over the Dutch, Payet was on his game. Really should have been credited with the assist for Paul Pogba's 30 yard beauty in the 30th minute. Payet continued the match the way he started, distributing the ball around the pitch making it difficult for the Dutch to do anything but fight for possession. Earlier in the week he scored a floater to beat Bulgaria 4-1. I imagine coming back to East London after the excitement with les Bleus is a lot coming home to a studio apartment after a being on a first class, all expenses paid, luxurious vacation; a bit underwhelming.
Cheikhou Kouyate - Senegal
Kouyate captained a very talented Senegal lineup against Cape Verde, leading his countrymen to a 2-0 victory. However, that isn't the story here. The real story is what Kouyate told the Senegal press after the match.
It is close to the players. I'll tell you a secret: as club (West Ham) it will not, I had a discussion 2 hours of time with him on this. If you see today Kouyaté from the national team and the club in, you know it's not the same. He found the right words to really motivate and boost us.
Perhaps it's a poor translation but the message seems to resonate. Cheikhou Kouyate is more motivated under the Senegal national team coach, Aliou Cisse, than under Slaven Bilic. Let's hope he was just trying to praise the manager who helped boost his career instead of more locker room discord in East London.
Sofiane Fegouli - Algeria
Not getting enough playing time in France? Why not Algeria! The young winger made the switch back in 2012 and knew what was expected in their match against Cameroon.
We know it will be a great game facing a Cameroon team, one of the great African nations," Feghouli told media. "All its players play in Europe. This will certainly be a very balanced match.
Surprisingly, Fegouli did not get the start, however, he did come on late in the match for a chance to break the 1-1 tie at home. Unfortunately, that would not come to light and that is how the match ended.