Hodgson in England plea
Roy Hodgson is urging English football not to lose sight of the importance of international combat.
The England coach is already having to cope with the absence of four key players for the friendlies against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil. More worrying though are the issue of post-season friendlies for Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham that will take away key figures from his squad and deny them the week's rest he was hoping for.
That scenario is not one Hodgson envisaged, leading him to make an emotional plea on behalf of the international game. "I don't think I can ever stop emphasising how important playing for England should be," he said.
"If we're not careful we're going to lose sight of the fact that, yes, the Barclays Premier League is a fantastic league and winning it is something quite fantastic to do and the Champions League and Europa League are big things too but international football is up there.
"You've only got to wait for the World Cup or European Championships to come around to see how vitally important people regard the national team.
"It really brings people together. You should never in any way debase the chance to play for England. If you're lucky enough to even get one game that should be something that should keep you going in your football life for a long time."
Hodgson is particularly frustrated because he asked for the matches to be arranged earlier than the official international dates in order to ensure the players got away on holiday quicker, knowing the demands that could be placed upon them by the World Cup the following summer.
"I'm not going to be hypocritical about it," he said. "Our thought a long time back was let's do it as quickly as possible after the league season and get the players back home for a long rest.
"My thinking, based on having been a club manager, was to let them have a week after the season ends, then we'll keep them a week and then they're free.
"We've been scotched a little bit by three teams deciding to go on long close-season tours. It's made in particular the first match a little bit difficult because some of the players will only have been back a few days when we've got to play."
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