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And Then There Were Three: Ireland Advances To The Euro Playoffs

The number of Aston Villa players involved in international matches is quickly dwindling. Unlike many of our Premier League brethren, we won't lose any to the Africa Cup of Nations. None will take long plane rides in order to be involved in CONMEBOL's World Cup qualifying. Wales and Bulgaria had already lost out on Euro 2012 qualification, so James Collins and Stiliyan Petrov won't be needed. Spain put an end to Scotland's already dim dream of qualification with a 3-1 victory on Monday, so Barry Bannan will be returned soon, with just a gash on his heel to remind him of his time in international football.

England, of course, took top of their group, and will go to Poland / Ukraine next summer. Darren Bent will almost certainly join them, but will Gabby Agbonlahor have a place? And will Shay Given and Richard Dunne make it to Euro 2012? Ireland managed a win over Armenia to take them to the playoff rounds, but we won't know until Thursday who they face.

And yes, I do know that international breaks will account for much of the time that players are absent, blah blah blah ... just making yet another point about the fact that all Villa players seem to come from about five countries. Come on, McLeish, Lerner, et al -- I want an excuse to write about other tournaments!