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Dublin: 7°C Saturday 28 November 2020

Swiss captain Xhaka in line to feature against Ireland after wife gives birth to baby daughter

The 27-year-old will join up with the Swiss squad on Wednesday after becoming a father for the first time.

Xhaka in action against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium.
Xhaka in action against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

CAPTAIN GRANIT XHAKA is set to feature for Switzerland next Tuesday night in their pivotal Euro 2020 qualifier against Ireland in Geneva.

The midfielder’s priorities were with his family this week. His wife Leonita safely gave birth to their baby daughter today and Xhaka will now join up with the Swiss squad on Wednesday.

He played the entirety of Switzerland’s 1-1 draw in Dublin on 5 September. The 27-year-old has started seven of Arsenal’s eight Premier League outings this season and captained the side yesterday during their 1-0 win against Bournemouth.

“Granit Xhaka failed to join the Swiss national team in Lausanne for their Uefa Euro 2020 qualifiers against Denmark and Ireland today,” a statement from the Swiss FA said.

“On Monday the Arsenal midfielder and his wife Leonita became parents [to a baby daughter]. Xhaka should join the team on Wednesday.”

granit-xhaka-with-james-mcclean Xhaka captained Switzerland during their 1-1 draw with Ireland last month. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The star midfielder said he was prepared to miss this month’s Euro qualifiers in order to be with his partner. International team-mate Haris Seferovic left the Swiss squad last month in similar circumstances and Xhaka said he would do the same if required.

“There are more special things in life than football. For example, when you become a father,” Xhaka said.

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“With Haris it was agreed that he gives everything against Ireland and then travels home. And with me, it would probably fall on that time when we play.”

Xhaka was booed by Arsenal supporters following his side’s 3-2 win over Aston Villa last month and has been under scrutiny for his performances so far this campaign.

Despite grievances from some supporters at the Emirates, Gunners boss Unai Emery has reaffirmed his support for the midfielder, who he appointed club captain.

Currently top of Group D with three games remaining, Mick McCarthy’s side face Georgia in Tblisi on Saturday before making the trip to Geneva.

Vladimir Petković’s Swiss side have won two and drawn two of their opening four games, beating Georgia and Gibraltar but dropping points against Denmark (a 3-3 draw) and Ireland at the Aviva Stadium.

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Aaron Gallagher

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