Devis Mangia, the Head Coach of the National Teams, is eyeing further improvement during the October window.
During this month, Malta will play three matches in the space of seven days – a friendly against Gibraltar on Wednesday, played behind closed doors, and back-to-back UEFA Nations League matches away to Andorra and Latvia on October 10 and 13 respectively.
Having called an expanded squad of 28 players ahead of the Gibraltar friendly, Mangia said that he and his coaching team are keen to assess more players, adding that the selection underlines his policy that the national team’s doors are open for all the Maltese players.
“This is a new situation,” Mangia said about the challenge of playing three international matches in one week.
“We have this (extended international window) now, in November and also next year but it’s fine.
“We have called up 28 players because, like we always emphasise, the doors of the national team are open.
“We are following other players, and we have called them to evaluate their qualities. There also some injured players whom I consider to be part of the group.
“There are other players we are following who are doing good things. At present, they are still part of the U-21 squad, but we are monitoring them and if they continue like this, the door will also be open for them.”
Speaking about the friendly against Gibraltar, Mangia said: “It’s not the case that because this is a friendly it’s less important than the other games.
“For us, it’s important both for ranking purposes but also because I don’t want us to play just for the sake of playing.
“It’s important we continue on our way, we have to grow up and this will be another good opportunity.”
After an enforced break of seven months due to COVID-19, Malta were back in action last month with two matches from UEFA Nations League, losing narrowly 3-2 away to the Faroe Islands and drawing 1-1 against Latvia at the National Stadium.
The general feeling after these two games was positive as Malta turned in improved performances but Mangia expects the team to further step up their level in this month’s internationals.
“Clearly, in September the situation was very difficult for us in relation to the condition of the other two teams (Faroe Islands and Latvia),” Mangia emphasised.
“Now I expect something better and I expect more from the players. September was the first step, but we have to improve, we have to grow up a lot and we must keep moving forward.
“We have to think that we can do better and better. This must be our thinking, our idea. We have good players and we must always aim to do better.”
Meanwhile, foreign-based players Zach Muscat, who plays for Portuguese club Casa Pia, Colchester United winger Luke Gambin, and midfielder Teddy Teuma, of Belgian club Royale Union Saint-Gilloise have reported for international duty and trained with their team-mates on Monday evening in Ta’ Qali.