This weekend saw another round of international games, some important like the playoffs for the final positions at the World Cup, but all too many were unimportant games that counted for absolutely nothing t should the top players be excluded form playing in them to avoid injury?
I know that this brings up loads of potential problem like who do you classify as a top player etc. etc. but a lot of the time it is quite clear that some players are not needed and that as long as they keep their form up for their club they will play for their country.
International friendlies do have their place but that shouldn’t be just before Christmas when the fixture schedule is already tight and the next competitive international match is not until next summer. Friendlies should occur just before the competition when you know what players are fit at the time because there is a good chance there will be at least one injury that will cause a player not to make the World Cup.
Chelsea due John Terry and Frank Lampard both picked up injuries during their trip with England and Robin van Persie looks to be sidelined for 6 weeks after lasting only 10 minutes playing in a friendly for the Netherlands. These loses to Chelsea and Arsenal could put their title bids off track, which is bad enough for the supporters and club when they got injured in a game that mattered but injured in a friendly that could have been avoided makes the whole thing seem a little pointless.
The obvious answer to the problem is only to have international friendlies in the weeks before competitive games with the only other solution being a second string getting the call up in stead of the top players but ultimately these players still have clubs who need them fit to play so this only protects the big clubs and not the small ones.
I have never been a big fan of international football but I do understand the importance of it to players who want to represent their country but sometimes I feel a little more common sense needs to be adopted when arranging the fixtures of non-competitive international matches.
Written by Mark Ferguson, a sports writer.