England manager Roy Hodgson set to be frustrated by fixture list whether games are moved for TV or not
Liverpool play Manchester United, and Arsenal play Tottenham ahead of crucial qualifiers
Friday 21 June 2013
Roy Hodgson looks set to be left frustrated in his hope for a clear Sunday for his England players ahead of crucial World Cup qualifiers early next season - whether they appear in front of the TV cameras or not.
The Premier League opted not to take into account the England manager's views on the new fixture list, and have scheduled two high-profile games on the weekend preceding the first international break of the 2013/14 campaign.
That has left Hodgson hoping the games - between Liverpool and Manchester United, and Arsenal and Tottenham, which are both slated for August 31 - are not pushed back 24 hours.
That seems unlikely, though, given the £3billion invested by BSkyB and BT Vision between them for the new three-year TV deal.
The fact Spurs will almost certainly be involved in a Europa League final qualifier on August 29 means Hodgson can forget having all his players available for training on the Monday prior to England's encounter with Moldova the following Friday.
Little wonder there was an element of resignation about the public utterances of former England striker Gary Lineker on Twitter yesterday.
"PL fixtures are said to have justifiably upset Roy Hodgson. AFC v THFC & LFC v MUFC just days before vital qualifiers. Never help ourselves!" the Match of the day host posted.
"Onus now on Sky and BTsport to do the right thing and leave the games on Saturday. Time to put nation's interests before their own.
"Seems many of you no longer care about the national team. Is this really the case?"
After seemingly receiving feedback from his followers, he later wrote: "I guess this justifies the Premier League's disregard for the best interests of England?"
Premier League insiders have questioned what the fuss is all about, wondering why players would be more at risk of fitness issues against one opponent than another.
With at least two, and possibly four, of England's top clubs in action on the Sunday, it could be as late as the Wednesday before England have a full session, which is hardly ideal, even against opponents as limited as Moldova.
Although the situation is not quite as bad in October - when England face Montenegro and Poland at Wembley - the fact Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal are all away from home, and Manchester City tackle Everton in a north-west derby, the chances are a couple of those games will be switched to the Sunday as well.
And before the November dates when any play-off matches will be held, Manchester United are due to entertain Arsenal, with Tottenham facing Newcastle in another eye-catching fixture.
England are presently two points adrift of Montenegro in Group H, but are now only two points ahead of Ukraine, who face minnows San Marino in two of their final four fixtures.
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