London (AFP) – Gareth Southgate has defended his decision to pick players from Manchester City and Manchester United in his latest England squad despite prolonged campaigns for the two clubs.
The England boss opted to call up players from the Etihad and Old Trafford for next month’s Nations League fixtures away to Iceland and Denmark even though they featured in European club competitions in August.
While Harry Maguire was removed from the squad after being given a suspended prison sentence in Greece, his United team-mates Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford are in the squad alongside City trio Kyle Walker, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling.
England’s games come before the start of the new Premier League season, with both Manchester clubs given the opening weekend off after their long seasons.
But Southgate is adamant there was no reason he should not have included players from the two teams in his own plans for next month.
“If I was a club manager, I wouldn’t be happy with this window where it is, for sure,” he said on Tuesday.
“I think they are two massive clubs with teams packed full of internationals who are used to dealing with these situations where their players go away. They accept probably better than any other clubs, or with less fuss than other clubs.
“But everybody knows that this is a slightly unique period, not season but two seasons, really, so there is no ideal preparation for anybody.”
With a condensed 2020/21 fixture calendar leading into the postponed European Championship next summer, Southgate hinted a lack of winter break within the Premier League programme could be more of an issue than this international break.
“I think the big concern for everybody will be where are we in December, January on everybody’s load and what does that look like, no winter break for all of the clubs, which is surprising, really, given the context of the season and the number of games everybody’s got to play,” he said.
“But resting a player in September is not going to resolve that issue, the issues are going to be later in the season.”
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