Gareth Southgate warns football chiefs “something has to give” amid rising injury toll
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Gareth Southgate has warned football’s authorities they must stop things turning “nasty” over player injury and burnout.
Southgate says “something has to give” otherwise players will be left facing a raft of serious injuries because of the fixture pile-up.
England manager Southgate is facing three World Cup qualifiers between March 24 and 31 in the middle of a hectic Premier League title run-in and the week before the Champions League quarter-finals.
He has already lost Joe Gomez to a serious knee injury, Raheem Sterling is on a growing casualty list while Jordan Henderson and Ben Chilwell both came off injured in the 2-0 defeat to Belgium on Sunday.
Southgate is fearful injuries will continue to stack up
(Image: Eddie Keogh for The FA/REX/Shutterstock)
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Southgate believes the FA, Premier League and clubs must come together and clearly feels the five substitute rule should be reinstated to ease the strain on players and stop injuries.
“We are able to make four or five changes. We made four in the end in Belgium and at the moment clubs don’t have that option,” said Southgate, whose side completes a run of three internationals in less than a week against Iceland on Wednesday.
“What will it take for that to change? Because we had a couple of less serious injuries but what do we do? Wait until we get a load of really nasty ones?
“There has to be a collective thinking about that.
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“I have to be fair to the club managers. They are their players, firstly, and they have the right to play them and use them as they see fit.
“What we have to do as a collective is to try to help the load. I don’t think we could have prepared physically any better than we have done this week.
“We have given players extra days recovery. We have tapered the training appropriately and we have still ended up with a couple of injuries.
"So, that is a worry in the longer term because of no winter break… so something has to give.
“It is a unique situation. We have been able to experiment a bit through these matches and that has been invaluable because of the quality of the opposition.
"Of course, with World Cup qualifiers, we have a duty to win the games but we always try to be progressive as well.
“We have learned a lot about a lot of new players in this autumn period and, hopefully, March will be an opportunity to build on that.
“We have got to finish the Iceland game well and that again is an opportunity for people.
“But what we don’t know about March is what we have available and I have to say it is a concern.”