• Roy Hodgson criticises Manchester City, Chelsea and Spurs
• Manager says they have ‘scotched’ plans for England friendlies
Roy Hodgson has criticised Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham for the timing of their post-season tours of the US, claiming England’s plans for the friendly matches against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil have been “scotched”.
England play the Republic at Wembley on 29 May before a trip to the Maracanã on 2 June to face Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Brazil, but Hodgson is furious that his preparations have been hindered by players travelling long distances with their clubs.
Chelsea and City will play each other in St Louis on 23 May and in New York on 25 May, potentially selecting a number of players – including Joe Hart, James Milner, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole – who were named in Hodgson’s squad on Thursday for the upcoming friendlies. Tottenham will play the Jamaican national team in the Bahamas on 23 May, with England’s Kyle Walker and Jermain Defoe expected to feature.
To compound Hodgson’s frustration, the Football Association originally brought forward the games against Ireland and Brazil so the players could be released earlier for their summer breaks, but with the Chelsea, City and Spurs contingents now facing the possibility of four transatlantic flights in quick succession, the England manager admits the situation is far from ideal.
“We’ve been very unlucky there. I’m not going to be hypocritical about it, we brought our games forward,” Hodgson said. “Our official dates are on June 6th so we’d have been keeping the players through to June 7th. So our thought a long time back was let’s do it as quickly as possible after the season and get the players back home for a long rest.
“My thinking, which is based a lot on having been a club manager, is that they’ll probably want a few days after the season ends, they won’t want to go straight from the end of the season to us, so let them have a week and then we’ll keep them a week and then they’re free.
“So we’ve been scotched a little bit by the teams who decided 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 and also we’re scotched in that all the teams have decided to go far west to America and Bahamas, so they’re going backward and forward on these long journeys. But that’s again the situation we find ourselves in. We can’t dictate to clubs what they do.”
Hodgson, who named Andy Carroll and the Reading goalkeeper Alex McCarthy in his 22-man squad, believes the honour of playing for England can sometimes be overshadowed by club commitments.
“Every game you play as an England player is a great opportunity. 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, they’re big leagues too, but international football is up there apart. So in my time as manager I shall always be preaching that you should never inany way debase the chance to play for England.”