England manager Gareth Southgate defends international break

England manager Gareth Southgate defends international break

Ben Chilwell
Chelsea defender Ben Chilwell was injured during England’s defeat in Belgium but could play against Iceland on Wednesday

England manager Gareth Southgate has defended the current international break, saying teams are trying to manage the situation “as best we can”.

Some called for the break to be cancelled to ease player workload during an already congested schedule.

Southgate, whose side play three times in seven days during the window, said the game as a whole was to blame and not just the international part.

“Everyone has a responsibility,” Southgate said.

“The whole calendar is the responsibility of everybody.”

England play Iceland in a Nations League dead rubber on Wednesday.

On Sunday they lost to Belgium in the same competition, having secured a friendly win against the Republic of Ireland last Thursday.

Southgate said the reintroduction of the five substitutes rule in the Premier League is the “only way” to reduce the workload on players as the number of injuries continues to rise.

Liverpool defender Joe Gomez suffered a serious knee injury in England training last week while club team-mate Jordan Henderson and Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling will both miss Wednesday’s game after returning to their clubs with injuries.

But Southgate said the break was important for international teams and players.

“We have got four more games in the next four or five months to prepare for a European championships,” Southgate said.

“Add into that, players want to play, they want to win caps, score goals.

“I totally understand the big picture and that it is difficult for every club especially.

“It is not international football on its own that is the issue. It is the collective load of everything – European matches, club matches, internationals.”

Southgate said England had managed the situation, with no player having started more than five of the national team’s seven matches this year.

Full-back Kieran Trippier, who plays in Spain for Atletico Madrid and is one of the players to have started five times, said: “Any opportunity I get to represent my country I want to be here.

“Obviously playing with the European games every three days, it is difficult. It’s just how you manage yourself and with recovery.”

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