International flavour in Stoke City’s new-look squad may be double-edged sword in January and February.
A sigh of relief, perhaps, this afternoon as the Angola squad was belatedly released – without Stoke City forward Andre Vidigal.
Summer signing Vidigal, aged 25, played for Portugal at youth level and, like his uncle Jose, he has long hoped to go on to win caps at senior level. His uncles Lito and Jorge played for Angola, however – and Lito coached Angola too – and there have been whispers in the football forums of Luanda that Andre could be persuaded to pledge his allegiance there.
But he has not been named in the squad for World Cup qualifiers against Cape Verde and Mauritius announced today, and that would suggest it is unlikely he will play a part in the Africa Cup of Nations in the New Year. The tournament will run from January 13 until February 11, so players could potentially miss five Championship matches and an FA Cup game.
But Stoke could be without Junior Tchamadeu for that period after the 19-year-old right-back received his first call up for Cameroon today. He will be in the party for World Cup qualifiers against Mauritius and Libya later this month, their last competitive games before the African Nations starts. Ryan Mmaee and Mehdi Leris have been in previous squads for Morocco and Algeria respectively, although neither has been summoned since making the switch to Stoke earlier this year.
The Premier League has a two-week break from January 15 to 28 but that does not extend to the Championship, even though the first half of the season is similarly disrupted by international breaks.
A date for squad announcements has not yet been confirmed but managers have been allowed to wait until the final few days before the start of the competition at previous tournaments.
International call-ups are a sign of players being in good form but Stoke, having been rocked by injuries through the first couple of months of the season, could do without an exodus to Ivory Coast disrupting a key period of the season.