Group 1 leaders France take on Malta missing the injured midfielder Robert Pires.

The Czech Republic travel to Holland for their Group 3 encounter without suspended midfield player Jir¡ Jarosik, while Dutch winger Andy van der Meyde has dropped out through injury

Serhiy Rebrov, Oleh Luzhny and Hennadiy Zubov have all been ruled for Ukraine’s qualifier against Spain in Kiev on Saturday. Spain’s defensive duo Ivan Helguera and Carlos Puyol are missing for the visitors.

Elsewhere in Group 6, Northern Ireland lost defender George McCartney just hours before they flew to Armenia for their qualifier. The Sunderland player was not happy flying to Armenia due to its proximity to Iraq. McCartney joins midfield players Phil Mulryne, Peter Kennedy and Kevin Horlock in missing the match. Southampton defender Chris Baird and Leyton Orient midfield player Ciaran Toner have been called up, by coach Sammy McIlroy.

Francesco Toldo will miss Italy’s Group 9 qualifier against Finland with flu. Giovanni Trapattoni has called up Milan’s Christian Abbiati to replace the Internazionale goalkeeper. Abbiati will act as cover for Italian No1 Gianluigi Buffon. Their opponents are without injured captain Jari Litmanen.

Lokomotiv Moscow striker Ruslan Pimenov is out of Russia’s Group 10 trip to Albania after sustaining an inury in training.

Switzerland have called up uncapped Grasshopper-Club midfield player Christoph Spycher for their qualifier in Georgia on Wednesday.

England travel to Liechtenstein for their Group 7 match without Sol Campbell who is injured, and the Arsenal defender gas been joined on the sidelines by Owen Hargreaves who aggravated a back injury in training. Hargreaves is doubtful for Wednesday’s vital match against Turkey but Campbell hopes to be fit.

In Group 10 Ireland are without striker Robbie Keane, who has withdrawn from the party following the death of his father earlier in the week, for their fixture with Georgia.