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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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England caught off-guard by friendlies

Roy Hodgson has revealed that England were caught unawares by Chelsea and Manchester City's decision to schedule two May friendlies in the United States, just days before the national team play their summer fixtures.

England have arranged friendlies against the Republic of Ireland at Wembley on May 29 and versus Brazil in Rio on June 2.

But before then, the reigning European and English champions will clash in St Louis on May 23 and New York two days later.

Hodgson said England's two matches were deliberately scheduled soon after the season to give players a longer summer break.

Speaking at the European Soccerex forum in Manchester, the England manager said: "We decided that as the official FIFA dates aren't until the middle of June, that wouldn't suit the clubs so we decided to put in a couple of friendly games as soon as possible but we didn't factor in that a couple of clubs would go on post-season tours."

However, Hodgson, who has managed four international teams, denied the club-versus-country row is worse in England than elsewhere.

He added: "There is always going to be a conflict between club and country. The Premier League clubs have their own agenda. They need to succeed and find the players who will bring them success. But it's not just here, I had it in Switzerland and Finland. We have to come to terms with those things and I certainly wouldn't like to suggest any problems we have are because of the Premier League clubs."

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