England's head coach Roy Hodgson has made a plea for the sanctity of international football and also criticised Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur for arranging lucrative tours as soon as the season finishes.
The Football Association brought dates of England's final two friendlies forward to ensure players have a long a rest in the summer, only to find the three clubs taking them away for extra matches. City play Chelsea twice in the United States and Spurs are going to the Bahamas.
Chelsea say Ashley Cole, Gary Cahill and Frank Lampard will return after the first of their games on Thursday, but City's Joe Hart, Joleon Lescott and James Milner are not due to fly home until Sunday, when the England players meet up. Tottenham have Kyle Walker and Jermain Defoe in the England squad, but their tour ends on Friday.
After naming his party for the matches at home to the Republic of Ireland on Wednesday week and Brazil in Rio a fortnight today, Hodgson said: "We've been scotched a little bit by the three teams who decided to go on long close-season tours.
"It's made the first match in particular a bit difficult because some of the players will only have been back a few days when we've got to play. We're also scotched in that the teams have decided to go west to America and Bahamas so they're going back and forth on these long journeys."
Hodgson also believes there is a danger of international football suffering from the increasing influence of the club game. "I don't think I can ever stop emphasising how important playing for England should be," he said.
"If we're not careful we're going to lose sight of the fact that, yes, the Premier League is fantastic and both the Champions' League and Europa League are big, but international football is something apart. You've only got to wait for the World Cup to see how vitally important people regard the national team."Reuse content