Ahead of the European Championship 2024 qualifiers, a host of star names across teams have been ruled out of the opening matches for their respective countries. The list is headlined by in-form Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford and also includes Barcelona’s Dutch playmaker Frenkie De Jong.

Meanwhile, for the French team, Kylian Mbappe has taken over as captain after Hugo Lloris announced his international retirement following the 2022 Fifa World Cup.

Here’s a look at the key stories from international sporting events through the day for 21 March, 2023:

Star players to miss Euro qualifiers

England will be without Marcus Rashford for their Euro 2024 qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine after the in-form Manchester United forward picked up a knock in Sunday’s FA Cup victory over Fulham.

Newcastle goalkeeper Nick Pope and Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount have also pulled out of Gareth Southgate’s squad.

Rashford has scored a career-high 27 goals for United this season, 19 of which have come since returning from international duty in Qatar, where he netted three times in five appearances.

For the Italians, Federico Chiesa and Federico Dimarco have withdrawn from the squad, the national football federation announced on Monday.

Juventus winger Chiesa limped off after coming on as a substitute as Juventus beat Inter Milan in a Serie A.

Examinations on his knee showed no injury, but the club said he needs to rest.

Inter left back Dimarco went off earlier the same game.

West Ham defender Emerson Palmieri has been called up for Dimarco but no replacement was named for Chiesa.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands will face France without injured playmaker Frenkie de Jong or winger Steven Bergwijn, the Dutch Football Federation announced.

They have been replaced by PSV Eindhoven’s Joey Veerman and Borussia Dortmund’s Donyell Malen as the Dutch take on Les Bleus at the Stade de France on Friday, before playing Gibraltar on Monday, March 27, in Rotterdam.

Earlier, Portugal announced that 40-year-old Pepe has been ruled out due to leg injury from the qualifiers against Liechtenstein on Thursday and Luxembourg three days later, the Portuguese federation said in a statement.

Mbappe named France captain

Kylian Mbappe has succeeded the retired Hugo Lloris as France captain, a source close to the team told AFP on Monday.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Mbappe, 24, accepted the proposal after discussions with coach Didier Deschamps earlier in the day.

Tottenham goalkeeper Lloris brought an end to his international career in January after losing the World Cup final a month earlier.

Lloris, 36, had been skipper for more than a decade.

Atletico Madrid attacker Antoine Griezmann was named vice-captain after Manchester United centre-back Raphael Varane also hung up his boots following the defeat to Argentina in December.

Mbappe, who has played 66 times for his country, had been heavily linked with the role for weeks and scored a hat-trick in the World Cup final loss after helping Les Bleus to the title in 2018.

The former Monaco attacker is vice-captain at PSG behind Brazil’s Marquinhos and led the side in the defender’s absence during Sunday’s loss to Rennes.

His first game as captain will be Friday’s Euro 2024 qualifier against the Netherlands at the Stade de France.

With text inputs from AFP

Updated through the day