Bevington says 'training camps' will not replace friendly games

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The Independent Online

Club England managing director Adrian Bevington has confirmed no thought was given to having an international get-together this month rather than a friendly match.

Fabio Capello lost four of his squad for last night's friendly with Denmark in Copenhagen within 24 hours of naming his squad, including captain Steven Gerrard.

As his intended captain Rio Ferdinand had already pulled out, it raised inevitable questions about the purpose of England's latest game, with particular attention focused on Arsenal duo Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott, who this time next week will be preparing for the Gunners' mouth-watering Champions League meeting with Barcelona.

One idea is to have a training camp instead of a game, which would allow Capello to work on set-piece routines ahead of the Euro 2012 qualifier in Wales next month.

But Bevington insists such an idea is unrealistic. "We are not the only team playing international football this week," he said. "It is a designated Fifa date and we actually play fewer games than we did in the past. It is important to have these games and the thought has always been to take one."

Not that Premier League managers agree. Arsène Wenger is a long-time critic of friendly fixtures, whilst Sir Alex Ferguson, so wary about the fact his Manchester United side tackle Manchester City on Saturday lunchtime, labelled the international inconvenience as "crazy" and successfully persuaded the Serbian FA not to use Nemanja Vidic in last night's encounter with Israel.

It is just one area of difference between the FA and Premier League, the body whom former chairman Lord Triesman told a parliamentary select committee yesterday now had all the power.

"Individual Premier League managers have a responsibility to their clubs and foreign managers currently make up a lot of the Premier League," said Bevington.

"Their priority isn't a successful England team. However, a lot of players benefit from playing with the national side. They get experience on the big stage and it can increase a future transfer fee.

"We have to make sure we are communicating properly with the clubs and it's the responsibility of the FA, including our new chairman David Bernstein, to improve the relationship."

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