2010 FIFA World Cup: Spotlight On Premier League Players in South Africa

George HouseContributor IJune 1, 2010

Spotlight on the FIFA World Cup

Barclays Premier League stars are set to grace the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

A total of 130 Barclays Premier League players have been included among the 941 names in the preliminary squads for the tournament which starts on 11th June.

Only four of the 32 participating nations have not named a Premier League player among their initial parties of up to 30 stars.

Italy, Japan, North Korea and Uruguay are the only countries not to have named a current player from England's top division.

Germany now do not have a Premier League representative after skipper Michael Ballack withdrew with a bad ankle injury picked up in the FA Cup final against Portsmouth.

And Slovenia named midfielder Robert Koren who has just been released by newly-promoted West Bromwich Albion.

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Inevitably England have the highest number of Premier League players with all 30 of Fabio Capello's squad playing in the top flight. The coach is pinning his hopes on Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney who has vowed to recover from injury while Gareth Barry of Manchester City faces a much tougher fitness battle.

Nigeria have the next largest contingent with eight - Everton trio Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Joseph Yobo and Victor Anichebe, Portsmouth duo Nwankwo Kanu and John Utaka plus Dickson Etuhu (Fulham), John Obi Mikel (Chelsea) and Danny Shittu (Bolton Wanderers).

They are followed by France, Ivory Coast and the USA on seven each.

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The preliminary squads will be whittled down to 23 by 1st June. These names must all come from the squads already submitted.

However countries may replace players up to 24 hours before their first match - and these substitute names do not have to come from the initial list of 30.

That means there is still a chance for the likes of Ben Foster, Gary Neville, Ashley Young, Joleon Lescott or others to get a late call-up for the England squad.

Likewise Arsenal's Samir Nasri or Patrick Vieira of Manchester City could yet make the France squad after their slightly surprising omissions by coach Raymond Domenech who will be replaced by Laurent Blanc after the tournament.

With the likes of Rooney, Didier Drogba, Carlos Tevez and (fitness permitting) Fernando Torres on show, the 2010 World Cup looks set to be lit up by Barclays Premier League stars.

The Premier League will also be represented in South Africa by Howard Webb who will be England's refereeing representative with assistants Michael Mullarkey and Darren Cann.

For a full run-down of Barclays Premier League players at the World Cup and a preview of each pool, click on the group names below.

Group A - France, South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay

Group B - Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece

Group C - England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia

Group D - Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana

Group E - Holland, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon

Group F - Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia

Group G - Brazil, North Korea, Ivory Coast, Portugal

Group H - Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile

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