Cardiff City goalkeeper Neil Etheridge has made himself available for the first two matches of the Philippines in the AFF (Asean Football Federation) Suzuki Cup beginning with the clash against Singapore on Tuesday at Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City.
Etheridge, who has 61 caps for the Philippines since starting his international career in 2008, told the Inquirer he will arrive on Monday as Cardiff still has a match against Brighton and Hove Albion in the English Premier League this Saturday.
The Azkals will still have Etheridge in the squad when they fly to Kuala Lumpur on Thursday to take on Timor Leste on Nov. 17 at KL Stadium.
Timor is the only team in the tournament that won’t be playing home matches as its field failed to meet standards.
The Fifa international break will run until Nov. 20 only, which means Etheridge will have to return to Cardiff, paving the possibility of Filipino-Danish goalkeeper Michael Falkesgaard taking his place in the starting lineup against Thailand on Nov. 21 in Bacolod.
But the Azkals will have left back Daisuke Sato and newcomer Patrick Strauss for the duration of the competition as they have been allowed by their clubs to be released to the Azkals.
“Some of the Europe-based players have been released by their clubs and we’ve been fortunate that, for example, (John-Patrick) Strauss will be released to the Philippines (for) the whole duration of the (AFF Suzuki Cup 2018) including (Daisuke Sato),” said Azkals manager Dan Palami.
Sato plays for Sepsi in the top division in Romania, while Strauss who made his debut against Oman last month, is currently with German second division side Erzgebirge Aue.
“It really helps when (we) have good relationship with clubs,” said Palami. “And with Sven (Eriksson) calling them up, requesting for (the) release (of players), I think we’ve had a little bit of success.”
The Azkals are already in Bacolod to begin preparations for their match against Singapore.