This coming weekend the hullabaloo of the Championship will take a backseat and allow the international scene to come back into focus.
In years gone by the punctuation of regular, often pointless friendlies throughout the season had been the scourge of many football fan.
Seldom was there too much to get excited about, certainly not until the latter stages of a qualifying campaign.
But all that seems a distant memory nowadays.
England’s exploits in reaching the semi-finals of last summer’s memorable World Cup in Russia triggered a kick-start in national pride for many supporters.
In addition, the newly-created Nations League has proved a big success despite the initial worries of some.
After people finally got their heads around its concept and convoluted rules it provided yet more joy for England supporters in what was a truly memorable 2018.Ricky Charlesworth
After people finally got their heads around its concept and convoluted rules it provided yet more joy for England supporters in what was a truly memorable 2018.
England’s thrilling last-gasp win over Croatia last November, to seal progress to this summer’s four-team finals, seems a long time ago.
But this week will see Gareth Southgate reconvene with his side, looking to continue the progress made by a young Three Lions squad in the past year.
All of a sudden international football is experiencing a renaissance.
If the absence of action from teams in the top two tiers is of slight concern then consider the fact that a good clutch of Yorkshire-based players are set to star for the Home Nations.
A total of 18 players from our clubs have been chosen by Scotland, Wales, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland for their batch of fixtures this month.
The Republic, under the tutelage once more of straight-talking Barnsley-born Mick McCarthy, lead the way with half-a-dozen players selected from our region’s clubs.
Sheffield United quartet John Egan, right, Enda Stevens, Scott Hogan and David McGoldrick join goalkeeping duo Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday) and Darren Randolph (Middlesbrough) in the squad for their Euro 2020 qualifying double-header against Gibraltar and Georgia.
It would appear that Northern Ireland chief Michael O’Neill also has a fondness for happenings in Yorkshire having chosen a quintet of players from our region.
Leeds duo Bailey Peacock-Farrell and Stuart Dallas make the cut for the visit of Estonia and Belarus, along with Boro pair Paddy McNair and George Savile and Blades striker Conor Washington.
There are a clutch of fresh faces on the international scene, too. Will Vaulks’s efforts this season in helping Rotherham battle against the threat of Championship relegation have been rewarded by Wales manager Ryan Giggs.
Vaulks, who qualifies to play for Wales through his mother, will be in the squad for the friendly against Trinidad and Tobago and qualifier at home to Slovakia.
Vaulks joins Leeds forward Tyler Roberts and Barnsley pair Adam Davies and Ryan Hedges in Giggs’s squad.
Another Yorkshire-based player that has gained recognition on the senior international stage for the first time is Sheffield Wednesday’s Liam Palmer.
Palmer has previously played for the Scots’ Under-21s, but his last outing for them came seven years ago.
The full-back has now reappeared on the Tartan Army’s radar after impressive performances for the Owls of late especially since Steve Bruce arrived at the club.
Palmer will be joined on international duty by club colleague Barry Bannan and Sheffield United schemer John Fleck as Alex McLeish’s side venture to Kazakhstan and San Marino.
Despite the absence of a Yorkshire-based player in Southgate’s squad for the games against Czech Republic and Montenegro, you can rest assured the team will have a distinct White Rose feel to it.
The quintet of Kyle Walker, John Stones, Danny Rose, Fabian Delph and Harry Maguire, all born in the Broad Acres, are squad regulars and have the experience of Russia safely stored under their belts.
Even Southgate can be considered an honorary Yorkshireman with the former Middlesbrough manager still residing in Harrogate.
Speaking shortly after England’s success at Wembley last November against the same team who dashed their hopes of a first World Cup final since 1966 last summer, Southgate spoke of his delight at marrying the national team with the supporters once more.
He hopes that this week’s fixtures can help strengthen that bond even further.
“What pleases me is the connection with the fans – I’ve not heard Wembley like that for years,” said Southgate, in the wake of the 2-1 win over the Croats.
“We want to continue on these days and nights and build on it.
“We’ve seen the impact that a successful national team can have on the nation.
“We now have more opportunities to excite our supporters. 2019 looks really exciting.”