sport news 10 things to look out for in the Nations League as international football ...

Following a summer that saw Euro 2020 canned in favour of salvaging the remains of domestic and European football seasons, it has been a long wait for the return of international football.

The exile will end when the Nations League begins its second edition starting from Thursday in what will be the first international matches for Europe's big guns for 10 months.

As the football calendar tries to play catch-up following the coronavirus pandemic, the Nations League doesn't just provide the red carpet for international football's return.

It also sets a curtain raiser for the domestic season, with the new Premier League campaign getting underway in just over one week.

So as new signings look to prove their worth, existing stars aim to hit the ground running and others just try to grapple with how the Nations League links with the World Cup, we look into 10 things to look out for in international football's return.

Aston Villa's Jack Grealish could make his England debut after being called up to face Iceland

Aston Villa's Jack Grealish could make his England debut after being called up to face Iceland

Will new Lions freeze in Iceland?

New kits, new stars and, hopefully for England, new results when they travel to Iceland to get their Nations League campaign underway.

The teams face each other for the first time since England's infamous shock defeat in the last-16 at Euro 2016 which proved to be the last under the management of Roy Hodgson.

But Gareth Southgate has steered the Three Lions in a more promising direction since and could hand debuts to the likes of Dean Henderson, Connor Coady, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Kalvin Phillips and Mason Greenwood as he looks to blood in a new era. 

England will be out to avenge their Euro 2016 defeat when they were eliminated in the last-16

England will be out to avenge their Euro 2016 defeat when they were eliminated in the last-16

Heavyweights Germany and Spain face-off

Two into one does not go and only one of Europe's big hitters will be able to qualify for the semi-finals from Group 4 in League A.

Germany and Spain are joined in the group by Switzerland and Ukraine but the clash between the former two on Thursday night will likely be crucial to who will reach the semi-finals for the first time.

Chelsea fans though will have little interest in that and will be more keen to see what sort of shape new £53million signing Timo Werner will be in when the Germany striker likely goes one-on-one with stopper David de Gea.

It makes for an interesting Premier League preview. 

Chelsea fans will be able to see new striker Timo Werner in action when Germany face Spain

Chelsea fans will be able to see new striker Timo Werner in action when Germany face Spain

Can Gareth Bale still carry Wales?

Wales' star man has just come off a long season at where he spent most of it with either his feet up on the bench or putting his clubs to good use at Madrid's finest golf resorts.

So he could be forgiven for being a little rusty but Ryan Giggs' team can't afford for the 31-year-old to be too much off the pace ahead of their opening League B Group 4 clash in Finland.

Giggs is already without Aaron Ramsey, David Brooks and Tyler Roberts due to injury while free agent Ashley Williams has pulled out due to personal reasons.

Injury hit Wales will once more be calling on talisman Gareth Bale in the Nations League

Injury hit Wales will once more be calling on talisman Gareth Bale in the Nations League

Holland begin life without Koeman

The return of international football could not have come at a worse time for Holland who close to the start of the Nations League have seen their manager Ronald Koeman swiped from under them by crisis club Barcelona.

After half-a-decade in the wilderness, Koeman finally had the nation on the right track, guiding them to a runners-up finish in the inaugural Nations League last summer.

Dwight Lodeweges is in caretaker charge for their opening game with Poland on Friday and vows to continue the good work started by his predecessor with a squad that includes Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk as well as new boy Donny van de Beek. 

Holland have lost their manager Ronald Koeman on the eve of the Nations League but will still be able to call on the quality of stars including Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk (above)

Holland have lost their manager Ronald Koeman on the eve of the Nations League but will still be able to call on the quality of stars including Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk (above)

Road to Qatar begins...

The draw for Europe's qualifying groups ahead of the 2022 World Cup are not set to take place for another two months, but the Nations League will have its own part to play in terms of the road to Qatar.

The first Nations League formed the entire play-off system for Euro 2020 and while

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