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Competitive action will benefit Real Madrid’s youngsters on international duty

Borja Mayoral, Jesús Vallejo and Dani Ceballos are all involved in Spain’s under-21 qualifying campaign.

Italy U21 v Spain U21 - International Friendly Photo by Marco Rosi/Getty Images

With a whopping 20 players away at the moment on international duty it’s going to be quiet around Valdebebas for the next few days. Readers will be able to advise whether this is a record or not, but either way it can hardly be said that Real Madrid don’t contribute to the international game!

The one exception to that number is sadly Achraf Hakimi who returned to Madrid for a medical assessment on Thursday after reportedly sustaining an injury in training with Morocco.

But apart from Achraf, it’s not only the full internationals that Zinedine Zidane is keeping an on; others are involved in competitive action as well.

Borja Mayoral, Jesús Vallejo and Dani Ceballos are currently involved in Spain’s under-21 qualifying campaign for the UEFA European Championship in 2019 which will be held in Italy and San Marino.

Borja Mayoral and Dani Ceballos played in the first of Spain’s two games on Thursday against Northern Ireland’s under 21s at Irish League Club Portadown’s Shamrock Park ground on Thursday night.

After the Northern Ireland game, which Spain won 5 – 3 in a match that included a hat-trick for Borja Mayoral, the squad returned to Madrid and are now preparing for their second match on Tuesday against Estonia at the home of Segunda B / La Liga 3 side Ponferradina.

Hopefully, Jesús Vallejo will join Borja Mayoral and Dani Ceballos in the starting line-up on Tuesday; although with Spain easily topping the group it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise if other fringe players in the Spanish squad are involved as well.

Jesús Vallejo was an unused sub on Thursday night in Portadown so there’s a good chance he’ll get a place in the first eleven on Tuesday.

At this stage of the season, all three Real Madrid youngsters will be keen to get involved in competitive matches. Jesús Vallejo in particular has missed so much game time due to injury that every minute counts as far as he’s concerned.

Although he’s been involved with the first team squad in recent weeks, his appearances have been limited. In need of competitive football, Jesús will have been bitterly disappointed to only have been on the subs bench last Thursday in Portadown so hopefully that will be rectified in Ponferrada.

As well as Jesús Vallejo, the other two Real Madrid lads will also be desperate to play once again. Dani Ceballos’ situation is similar at the moment to that of Borja Mayoral in that his appearances have also been limited when it comes to being given first team action at Real Madrid.

Although Dani’s recent injury is no longer a concern for him, he will still be keen to complete both matches.

And although Borja Mayoral has made a fair number of appearances in Zinedine Zidane’s first-team squad; he too will be keen to play on Tuesday. If he manages to get his name on the scoresheet yet again then for sure Zidane will be impressed.

Just like making that step-up from being a regular squad member to one of the starting eleven, the transgression between the under-21s and the full national team should also be seamless; and that’s been illustrated of late by Marco Asensio.

Having been good friends with Dani Ceballos through the under-21s when the latter was a Betis player, their paths have since taken slightly different routes.

While Dani will be disappointed at the moment not to have had more Real Madrid games under his belt, Marco Asensio has gone on to make regular first-team appearances; and now looks as though he’s going to become a regular in the full national squad as well.

Marco’s success in bridging the gap between the under 21 and the full Spanish team will give heart to the three under-21 players who at domestic level are all competing for a place in Zinedine Zidane’s starting line-up.

As Real Madrid step-up the intensity of yet another European campaign, success at under 21 level with the national team won’t do them any harm.

It’s maybe not Champions League or the World Cup but it’s still competitive football. And if they’re thinking along international lines, then as with Marco Asensio it should help to make that transition easier.

Before even thinking about that though, the priorities for all three will be to play in Real Madrid’s first-team on a regular basis; and once the qualifiers are over that’s where their attention will be focused.

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