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Hodgson, Ferguson Feud Over Club vs Country

  • Guardian, Friday, April 12, 2013 1:47 PM

Roy Hodgson on Thursday said English players’ lax attitude toward internationals is undermining the national team’s prospects. The England coach claims that English players and clubs show a lack of commitment to the international game at all age levels, and said that players who are at risk of “burnout” due to too many games should be rested during the domestic season, and not during internationals. In one instance, Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand withdrew from England duty last month, citing a strict training regiment with his club, but then traveled to Qatar while England played San Marino and Montenegro in World Cup qualifying.

“It concerns me that we are guilty of accepting it's the international break so we can give the player 10 days off to go to Dubai,” Hodgson said, speaking at the Soccerex European Forum. "If you're a club manager now you've got no excuse,” he added. “UEFA are putting an end to the friendly debate by putting them in clearly defined international dates so you can quite easily plan your time around these blocks.”

Manchester United coach Alex Ferguson responded by saying, "Look at the opposite side. International football interferes with the clubs' ambitions. Friendly games for a start. They have been doing it for the last decade, playing a friendly in the week before the season starts. Tell me the sense of that. I have no issues at all about the competitive part. The players should always be available for the European Championship and the World Cup. But you can't tell me that should apply itself in friendly games."

Queens Park Rangers’ Harry Redknapp agreed. “I don't know what Roy is saying there," he said. "International friendlies are quite often meaningless games. Roy's been a club manager and I'm sure when there was a break he was only too pleased to have a day or two's rest to give the players a rest or take them away to train.”

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