Premier League chock full of Belgium's finest

ROY PILOTT
Last updated 05:00 23/11/2012

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If the Premier League is hurting the prospects of English players performing at the highest level, then it is doing the opposite for Belgians.

Ten have carved out regular places in premiership clubs this season, and an 11th, Manchester City's Dedryck Boyata is on loan in Holland.

Six - Thomas Vermaelen, Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen, Eden Hazard, Mousa Dembele and Christian Benteke - started in Belgium's last World Cup qualifier, which resulted in a 3-0 win over Serbia and another two - Simon Mignolet and Kevin Mirallas - were on the bench.

That only left Marouane Fellaini and Romelu Lukaku, who have 56 caps between them.

Belgium will qualify for Brazil in 2014, barring a remarkable drop in form, after missing out in 2006 and 2010.

Eden Hazard was the big headline grabber when he moved to Chelsea in the summer but the form of Aston Villa's Christian Benteke has impressed in recent weeks.

Benteke, who was born in the Congo, signed for Villa from Genk in the summer. The tall 21-year-old has impressed with his physical style and form but chose the worst possible time this week to declare his love for Arsenal. I can understand why he would want to do that but given the Gunners travel to Villa Park this weekend, he could show better timing.

The Daily Mirror reckons Chris Wood will be made available by West Brom for £1 million (NZ$1.96m). Wood is on loan and scoring a goal a game at Millwall, and would become the first New Zealand born player to be sold for a seven-figure number. But I think Steve Clarke would expect to get a bit more for the former Hamilton Wanderers striker.

A long queue is forming for David Beckham after his announcement that he will be leaving the LA Galaxy at the end of the season. The winning bidder will probably have to come up with about £200,000 a week to pay him.

Shakhtar Donetsk striker Luiz Adriano didn't read the script when he chased on to a long ball designed to return possession to FC Nordsjaelland. He rounded the keeper and scored. The match ended up 5-2 to Shakhtar and now Adriano has been pinged for "violation of the principles of conduct". Give me strength.

Oops . . . I hope the comments man on the other side of the Tasman who twice included Marco Rojas in a list of foreign imports last weekend has been told that the Melbourne Victory star is, like Chris Wood, a Kiwi. Andriy Shevchenko had turned down the chance to coach Ukraine, who have put Harry Redknapp at the top of their wish-list . . . Tottenham midfielder Scott Parker, out since the European championships with an Achilles injury, is back in training . . . Neil Sullivan has returned to Wimbledon on loan 12 years after leaving the original Dons.

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Media Agency MP & Silva has won broadcast rights to all 380 premiership matches for New Zealand, Indonesia and 15 Pacific Islands for the next three seasons. Coverage on Sky TV has never been better, but given that revenue from the new deal is double the existing figure I hope it doesn't impact on that service.

Just in case you were wondering, the £345,000 a week pay packet picked up by Anzhi Makhachkala's Samuel Eto'o is the biggest in football.

Middle Eastern investment bank GFH Capital are buying Leeds . . . Mark Hughes might not have won the premiership sack race, but it does appear he has a divided dressing room . . . Bundesliga strugglers Augsburg are being linked with Sunderland's South Korean striker Ji Dong-Won

Thierry Henry could make a second return to Arsenal in January to cover for Gervinho, who will be at the African Cup of Nations - and Tim Cahill may also return to Everton under the same type of short term deal . . . Liverpool have asked Chelsea about Daniel Surridge, and are watching Sport Lisbon's Jeffren, apparently . . . Henning Berg wants to take Brad Friedel back to Blackburn.

Swansea defender Ashley Williams has risked punishment after berating Luis Suarez in his book My Premier League Diary ... QPR striker Bobby Zamora is out for up to three months as he recovers from a hip operation . . . Villa manager Paul Lambert has been handed a one-match sideline ban for his reaction to a penalty decision at Manchester City last week.

On the move:

Courtney Cameron Villa-Rotherham, Blair Adams Sunderland-Coventry, Emmanuel Frimpong Arsenal-Charlton.

Weekend fixtures:

England, Sunderland v West Brom, Everton v Norwich, Man Utd v QPR, Stoke v Fulham, Wigan v Reading, Villa v Arsenal. Sunday, Swansea v Liverpool, Southampton v Newcastle, Chelsea v Man C, Spurs v West Ham. Scotland Motherwell v Hearts, Hibernian v Aberdeen, Ross County v Dundee United, Celtic v Inverness, Kilmarnock v St Johnstone, St Mirren v Dundee.

- Taranaki

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