Three Preston North End players are on international duty with the Republic of Ireland for their game against Wales in Dublin on Tuesday night.
Sean Maguire, Callum Robinson and Alan Browne are in UEFA Nations League action with Martin O’Neill’s men. The new competition aims to make international matches that take place between major tournaments more competitive, but how does it work?
When are matches played?
Matches will be played for the first time this season and will take place every two years – so either side of the World Cup or the European Championships. International breaks that used to be filled with somewhat pointless friendlies now have a competitive purpose.
Who plays in the competition?
As the tournament is run by UEFA, the competition is just for European nations. Unlike the Euros, nations do not need to qualify for the competition so all 55 member nations will be involved.
How does it work?
Teams have been put into four leagues from A-D with other nations that have a similar ranking to them.
This means smaller countries with less international success will play each other and more dominant forces in European football will also be grouped together – so there’s no chance of England v San Marino in this competition.
Each league is split into four groups of teams that will play each other home and away between September and November 2018.
The winners of groups in leagues B, C and D will be promoted, while the losers of the groups in leagues A, B and C will be relegated into the league below.
League A group winners will progress to the semi-finals of the competition in June 2019 and then the winner of those matches will play in the final.
What group are the Republic of Ireland and Preston North End’s players in?
Ireland play in the second tier League B with alongside Denmark and Wales in Group Four.
How have they started?
After a 4-1 defeat to Wales in Cardiff last month and a 0-0 draw with Denmark on Saturday, the Irish have to win at least one of their remaining two games - they head for Denmark next month after Wednesday’s clash with Wales - if they are to avoid relegation from League B.
Where can I watch the Republic of Ireland against Wales?
The game from the Aviva Stadium is live on Sky Sports Football and kicks off at 7.45pm.