Leading clubs including Manchester United, Chelsea, Everton and Arsenal are furious that Liverpool appear to have been given preferential treatment by England manager Roy Hodgson over Daniel Sturridge, after Brendan Rodgers claimed the striker might be fit enough to play some part in Liverpool’s game against West Bromwich Albion at Anfield tomorrow but not fit enough to report for England duty.
Hodgson is in danger of clashing with leading Premier League managers following his controversial decision to exclude Sturridge from his England squad for the European Championship qualifying matches against San Marino and Estonia next week.
One source close to the discussions said: “We will be watching very closely and if Sturridge does play on Saturday we will be furious.”
Should Sturridge play against West Bromwich it will set a very dangerous precedent and leave Hodgson with little room for manoeuvre in future if Liverpool’s rivals follow suit and claim any of their players are unfit to play for the national team, then decide to include them in domestic games ahead of international matches.
Under Fifa rules England have preferential rights over clubs and a player only has to play a minor part to be deemed fit to play for his country. Hodgson attempted to distance himself from reports that there was a rift with Liverpool by insisting he never had any intention of selecting Sturridge.
However, it appears he diplomatically tried to avoid a run-in with Liverpool following the controversial injury Sturridge sustained while training with England last month, which has resulted in the 25-year-old missing Liverpool’s last six games.
And there is no coincidence that with four Liverpool players in this squad, besides the absent Sturridge and the injured Glen Johnson and Jon Flanagan as part of future reckoning, Hodgson could ill afford to get on the wrong side of the club.
Rodgers was very critical of England’s handling of Sturridge and made it abundantly clear he did not want him called up this time, saying: “Daniel won’t be fit. Whether he is available for the weekend or not, he won’t be fit.”
Following Liverpool’s fourth defeat of the season against Basel in the Champions League, Rodgers added: “I’ve had good communication with Roy and we spoke at length on the situation. It was amicable. There is no issue.
“We had agreed it was probably too soon for Daniel to meet up with England irrespective of whether he was involved this weekend or not.”
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