Six struggling Premier League stars who will enjoy some respite during the international break

Jason Soutar
Premier League duo Youri Tielemans and Cristiano Ronaldo

The international break will have been a long time coming for plenty of players in the Premier League. Here are six stars plying their trade in the English top flight who have struggled at club level and will be buzzing to spend some time with their compatriots.


Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
Ronaldo reported late for Erik ten Hag’s first pre-season in charge of Manchester United, citing understandable family reasons, and has looked like a skiving college student lagging behind with his coursework ever since.

It is clear to see that the 37-year-old doesn’t fit Ten Hag’s system, yet the Dutch manager has no choice but to try and get a tune out of him in the Europa League, while bringing him off the bench on a weekly basis in the Premier League.

The Real Madrid and Red Devils legend has scored once this season in eight matches – a penalty against FC Sheriff last week – and finally looks like a player his age after years of defying logic and biology.

To spend some time as the main man being loved by everyone while on duty with the Portuguese national team could be just what the doctor ordered.

It won’t be easy for Ronaldo to hit some form in two tough Nations League matches against the Czech Republic and Spain respectively, but I fancy his chances of doing so. And if he doesn’t look like a threat for Portugal, there might not be much hope for him with a huge World Cup coming up.


Youri Tielemans (Leicester City)

“I’m happy to get a bit of fresh air here because it’s tough at Leicester right now. It’s clear that things are not going well at the club. We are doing everything we can as a team.”

Tielemans said it himself: he is delighted to get some respite from the dire situation at the King Power before having to return ahead of the Foxes’ Premier League fixture against Nottingham Forest.

With one point from their opening seven league matches, the game against Forest is a winnable one as their rivals are also struggling.

In a bloody woeful side, Tielemans hasn’t looked great after being linked with a move to Premier League pacesetters Arsenal all summer.

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers will hope the 25-year-old’s time with Belgium will kick his arse into gear. The former Liverpool and Celtic boss will be hoping that about literally every single one of his international players. It’s a miracle there are any given their start to the season.


Jarrod Bowen (West Ham)
There are a few West Ham players I could have picked. There is Declan Rice, and Lucas Paqueta, who has not hit the ground running, but he can be given the benefit of the doubt having joined the club less than a month ago.

The Hammers have started the season very poorly after two brilliant campaigns under David Moyes but have won two out of two in the Europa Conference League, which is a very winnable competition for the Londoners.

England camp looks like a hoot so Bowen will be happy to get in amongst it, but the Three Lions have two pretty difficult fixtures coming up against Germany and Italy.

Bowen’s place in Gareth Southgate’s squad is pretty insecure, even if being picked while performing badly for his club is a good sign.

After a season in which there were calls for months for him to be called up by Southgate, the 25-year-old’s inclusion this time around was met with moans and groans. He was lucky. But he has a chance to show that he belongs while kick-starting his campaign at the same time.

It will be particularly tough for Bowen at West Ham given the fact they haven’t really gone through a spell this woeful since he joined from Hull City. To go and link up with the country ranked fifth in the world should help improve his mindset.

Jarrod Bowen and Declan Rice look dejected


Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)
The dude from Hershey, Pennsylvania is not happy at Stamford Bridge at the moment. Pulisic has come off the bench seven times and started once this term and is probably a bit chuffed that Thomas Tuchel was sacked.

Pulisic’s situation is quite similar to Ronaldo’s. Both players will go from being out of favour with their manager and plenty of fans at club level, to being adored in the international setup.

Basically, Captain America is the poster boy, or the phenom guy, for the United States national team. The LeBron James of soccer if you will.

The USA face Japan and Saudi Arabia during the international break and Pulisic will be buzzing to get some minutes while being worshipped by fans. Two things that probably won’t happen when he comes back to London.


Emmanuel Dennis (Nottingham Forest)
Dennis had a tremendous debut season in England on a personal front, scoring ten Premier League goals in 33 appearances as Watford were relegated.

He was rewarded with a move to Nottingham Forest, who went berserk in the summer transfer window, signing over 20 players.

The vast amount of competition has done Dennis no favours, however. After showing he belongs in the top flight, he is now spending most of the time sitting on the bench watching his side getting battered on it.

Dennis’ Forest debut came in the Carabao Cup win at Grimsby Town before playing 21 minutes in a loss against Tottenham, then 32 in the 6-0 hammering at Manchester City, before appearing for five and two minutes against Bournemouth and Fulham.

The 24-year-old’s disappointing start to life at the City Ground actually cost him his place in the latest Nigeria squad. However, an injury to Henry Onyekuru saw him called up to replace the Adana Demirspor forward.

Getting out of Nottingham to represent his country and train with his compatriots will be good for morale. The Super Eagles take on Algeria in a friendly and that’s all she wrote. With only one fixture coming up, it might same sh*t, different game for Dennis, but at least he will get a break from it at club level.


Luke Shaw (Manchester United)
United’s start to the season hasn’t been bad at all despite two embarrassing results to kick off the Ten Hag era. So to have two players from Old Trafford included in this list is a reflection on the individual and not the team.

Shaw started those first two games against Brighton and Brentford before being hooked at half-time of the 4-0 defeat at the Gtech Community Stadium. His 20-minute cameo against Sheriff in the Europa League is his only time on the pitch since that fateful day in west London.

The 27-year-old couldn’t even get a start in the Europa League, for crying out loud. What hope have you got?

Like club captain Harry Maguire, Shaw can link up with his England teammates where he is probably still seen as a crucial player.

After scoring in the final of Euro 2020 and being one of the best left-backs in the tournament, everyone thought Shaw was the best thing since sliced bread, but a 14-month-long hangover has not justified the praise he received.

With his England competition (Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell) also not playing as much as he’d like, Shaw might actually get some important minutes under his belt against both the team the Three Lions beat in the last 16 of the Euros and the country that vanquished them on penalties in the final.