Everton manager David Moyes has hit out at football's unrelenting calendar as his squad's injury problems continue to mount.
Moyes today confirmed striker Louis Saha's fears that the Toffees' top goalscorer is likely to miss the rest of the season after an ankle operation.
Saha, scorer of 10 goals this term, was injured in the Barclays Premier League win over Fulham a fortnight ago and joins two other key players in Mikel Arteta and Marouane Fellaini on the sidelines.
Jack Rodwell, Tim Cahill and Seamus Coleman are also doubtful for tomorrow's clash against Aston Villa at Goodison Park after withdrawing from recent international duty.
With debate raging over the merits of this week's international friendlies and whether established senior players such as Arsenal's Jack Wilshere should still play in the Under-21s, Moyes feels the top players are being overworked.
The Scot said: "To have a friendly at this stage of the season is difficult.
"I understand why the national teams want them but we are into the last six or seven weeks of the season and you can see the amount of injuries players are having, probably on the back of the World Cup and other international tournaments.
"I think that is why you are probably seeing so many injuries if you look around the Premier League.
"People are probably not getting to see the best players right now because the football is taking its toll on them.
"They are all involved in so much football and they need a break."
Moyes feels so strongly about the situation he admits it has even tempered his natural pride at seeing his defenders Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines play for England this week.
The Everton pair both started Tuesday's draw with Ghana at Wembley and at least came through unscathed.
Moyes said: "I do take a lot of pride because I want them to be selected for their country, but I am beginning to doubt if that is what I want.
"I am just beginning to look and say, 'Is it worth it?'.
"We have lost quite a few players. They don't pay the players' wages, we have to.
"That is the way football is, you get injuries.
"We are picking a few up. We tend not to talk about them but we have got a fair spate of them at this moment in time."
Moyes, with a threadbare squad already due to financial restraints, could therefore have limited options for tomorrow's reunion with former Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier.
The Frenchman was in charge at Anfield when Moyes took over at Everton nine years ago.
The pair may be regarded on Merseyside as old foes but Moyes claims that is far from the case.
He said: "I am really looking forward to it because I have known Gerard a long time.
"I knew him long before I got the job at Everton and he was Liverpool manager.
"He was a world-renowned coach and I used to go to watch all the coaching courses and seminars throughout Europe. Gerard was always was one of the main teachers.
"He was always interesting, his work was good. He has been excellent at that level and he has as a coach and manager as well."
Everton appear to have killed off any relegation concerns by collecting 10 points from their last four games to take their total to 40 and move into a safe-looking eighth place.
Villa are certainly not resting as easily, sitting just a point above the relegation zone after successive defeats and Houllier coming under increasing pressure.
Houllier has endured a torrid time since taking charge earlier this season but Moyes expects him to turn the situation around.
He said: "They have really good players but, with the way the Premier League is this year, I'm not surprised where they are.
"Only three or four weeks ago we were at the wrong end of the table.
"It can change quickly and I wouldn't expect them to be there come the end of the year.
"They have got too much in attacking areas to be worried about that, I think."Reuse content