Gareth Southgate Hits Back at Premier League Sides in Club vs Country Row

Gareth Southgate says Premier League clubs are putting pressure on England players | NICK POTTS/Getty Images

England boss Gareth Southgate has warned of players being put under unfair pressure by Premier League managers over international call-ups as the ‘Club vs Country’ row rears its head again.

This season more than ever, club bosses have been determined to protect their players as a result of the overcrowded schedule, with the same number of games crammed into a smaller time frame to make up for the delayed start to the campaign.

FBL-EUR-NATIONS-ENG-DENHarry Kane has been at the centre of a club vs country row | TOBY MELVILLE/Getty Images

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho has taken particular issue with international games and the subject of Harry Kane’s fitness was a major talking point during the October international break.

Mourinho has not tried to hide his feelings, posting a sarcastic message on Instagram this week to make clear what he thinks: “Amazing week of football. Great emotions in the national team matches, superb friendlies and total safety. Covid test results after matches been played, randomers running on the pitch while team sessions are taking place and much more.”

“The players want to play for England. They are in a really difficult situation. They are under huge pressure from their clubs,” Southgate said as he addressed the media ahead of facing Iceland.

“That is going on in the background. It manifests itself in different ways, but that is what happens.”

Southgate called it a ‘power game’ from Premier League managers.

“Whether that is phone calls, messages, press conferences, we know everything that goes on. Everybody is inevitably going to fight their own corner,” he said.

“I’ve got to do what is right and it’s correct that we have managed those with a heavy schedule through Europe in the friendlies, in particular, and with the training.”

His reasoning appears fair. Kane, for example, was not involved in the friendlies against Wales and Republic of Ireland. The likes of Marcus Rashford, Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold have also been on the bench in those sorts of games.

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