England manager Roy Hodgson wants help from Premier League and TV over scheduling

 

England manager Roy Hodgson has pleaded for understanding from the Premier League and television companies to help him mould a successful national team.

Hodgson's training time with his players, already in short supply, is frequently limited further by players being involved in Sunday fixtures with their clubs.

While they would not in any case link up with England until the Monday, Hodgson feels such games, particularly away from home, prevent his charges becoming fully involved in training until later in the build-up to a Friday international.

The scheduling shift which saw weekend internationals moved from Saturdays to Fridays was welcomed by club managers, with players returning earlier having concluded their international duty on the following Tuesday, but it provides a further squeeze for Hodgson.

Europa League sides, notably Liverpool and Tottenham, are forced into Sunday fixtures due to European commitments on Thursdays, but Hodgson cited the example of Manchester United's recent televised 4pm clash at Southampton, ahead of the World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine, as unhelpful scheduling.

In a candid question-and-answer session with Club Wembley members, broadcast on the Football Association's website, Hodgson said: "This is the Premier League and TV.

"It would be nice if, when we're playing on Friday, the top teams played on Saturday and not Sunday. Then on Monday we could do a bit of work, and on Tuesday do some serious work.

"But every time, the top clubs have played on Sunday and some at five o'clock on Sunday. If they're from Manchester and they've played in Southampton, they get back late at night then have to come down again."

Hodgson also called for the introduction of a winter break to give the English season a more "logical" schedule, and added: "It would be lovely to think that one day we could all get together and say 'England is important'.

"You hear people trying to say it's only the Premier League that counts, and the Champions League, and people don't care about international football - something like 24 or 25million watched our (Euro 2012) game against Italy.

"If you want to see the English desire to see a national team do well, you only have to go to the Olympics. It's Great Britain but you had 20,000 turning up to watch a handball game - let alone beach volleyball, but that's a different matter."

Having taken the job just weeks before this summer's European Championship, Hodgson was granted a relatively cushioned introduction in terms of the pressure of the job.

But this month's draw with Ukraine drew criticism in some quarters and a poor result away to Poland next month would add to that.

Hodgson, though, said wryly: "I know I'll be vilified at some point but I hope when that vilification comes, somewhere down the line I'll get the redemption that a Bobby Robson had.

"You know when you take the job, you're dead. All you can hope is that you can enjoy that time on your death bed and that when you're resurrected a few years later, people say 'You know, he wasn't that bad'."

PA

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