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Gareth Southgate claims England’s brightest stars have never been under more pressure NOT to play for their country.
The Three Lions boss admits he’s had to walk a tightrope this season to avoid any club versus country rows.
But Southgate believes Premier League bosses have never worked so hard to stop their players running the risk of injury by playing international football.
He said: “From a club perspective, it's never been more competitive in our league. There are lots of huge personalities and strong people, who are always looking for an edge.
“There’s six, seven clubs challenging for the title and then there's everybody else battling for Europe and to avoid relegation.
“Everybody is going to fight their own corner. So there is all of that noise in the background. It puts us on a collision course at times.
"Four years ago I started thinking I’d better be careful of that. But if we have to pick one from every club, it’s impossible.
“The players are under huge pressure from their clubs. That is the landscape whether it is made public or not.
“But they want to play for England. They want to get as many caps as they can.”
Fitness issues made Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford unavailable during this window, and Southgate then lost Joe Gomez and Jordan Henderson to injury.
But he wants the Premier League to help by looking again at their decision not to allow clubs five subs, saying: “That is the only way I can see to lessen the load.
“If the clubs review it and think about what’s important for players – and if they lose players they are going to have to invest money in more – there’s sense in looking at it.”
Southgate also insisted he’s in the wrong job if he can’t handle the criticism that came with Sunday’s defeat to Belgium, which ended England’s Nations League hopes.
He said: “You have moments where you are questioned and things go against you. You have to fight through them. I came into this job eyes wide open.
“I lived through watching Graham Taylor, Bobby Robson, Kevin Keegan. What they went through on a personal level, the abuse they suffered.
“But also I have seen when Bobby got the team to a World Cup semi-final what an incredible high that was for the country. You have to focus on what it could be.”
- England Football Team
- Gareth Southgate
- Premier League
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