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Apr 12, 2013

Hodgson bemoans international mentality

England manager Roy Hodgson has admitted to his frustration at the way in which some clubs are dealing with international breaks.

During the most recent international break, Hodgson called on Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand only for the defender to withdraw from the squad in order to follow a pre-planned fitness regime in Qatar and carry out media duties.

When asked about the matter of clubs possibly undermining the national team, Hodgson expressed a need to alter the ethos that time away from club duties can be used to give players "ten days off or go to Dubai".

"These [international] breaks are being seen as the ten-day break that players don't always get during the season," Hodgson is quoted by The Times as having said at the Soccerex conference in Manchester.

"It concerns me that we [English football] are guilty of accepting 'It's the international break so, we can give the player ten days off or go to Dubai.'

"I would still like to see the international break being a time when players go to play for their international teams. If you're a club manager now, you've got no excuse. You can easily plan your time around these blocks. If your players need a rest, it's not obligatory that it has to be during the international break. It can be during the other 40-odd weeks of the year.

"We talk about overplaying. Burnout? We have to be careful. We take something as read because it is thrown at us. The season might be 55 games long, but you show me how many players are playing 55 games. When you add up all the minutes for some players, it's not even 19 games."

He added: "I grew up in a generation when playing for your national team was vitally important. I can't understand why so many players should be denied the chance to play for their national teams."

England coach Gary Neville, meanwhile, outlined his concerns about the lack of first-team opportunities being handed to young English players in the Premier League.

"There's a tipping point that we've gone beyond in England," he said. "Thirty-five per cent [the proportion of English players in the Premier League] is low. In Spain, it's about 63%, which sounds about right. We're maybe 20% off. We need to give more chances to our own.

"We're harming ourselves a little bit. I've watched Chelsea beat Manchester United [in the FA Youth Cup], I've watched Manchester City beat Manchester United in the Youth Cup semi-finals and finals. I've seen these players — [Josh] McEachran [on loan from Chelsea to Middlesbrough] and others. Where are they? I can't work it out.

"The question is: 'Is the talent being produced or is the talent being lost?' I think there are definitely pathways being blocked."

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