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Cooperation of clubs crucial to England’s World Cup bid, says Gareth Southgate

Italy v England – UEFA Euro 2020 Final – Wembley Stadium
(Image credit: Nick Potts)

England manager Gareth Southgate is hopeful of getting the full cooperation of clubs as he admits picking the right squad for next year’s World Cup will be vital given the rapid turnaround.

The Premier League announced last week it will pause the season after the weekend of November 12-13 2022, with the World Cup in Qatar kicking off just over a week later.

The World Cup final takes place on December 18, with the Premier League campaign restarting on Boxing Day.

Such a tight schedule presents new issues for international managers such as Southgate, who are usually able to spend plenty of time with their players before major summer tournaments.

Southgate believes the break offered to players at the end of the current season will be crucial and that it will be more difficult to pick anyone who is not fit and ready for action next winter.

“I think there’s a balance there because even with the internationals in the summer, there is the opportunity for three or four weeks of rest and potentially three weeks of pre-season,” he said.

“What’s important is that there is a break at the end of this season.

“Next season is unique. Normally we go into tournaments picking up the pieces at the end of a season, but this will be during the season.

“The unknown is what will happen with the tight turnaround after the last league matches.

“Sometimes when you pick up any injuries before summer tournaments, you can sometimes have a few weeks to get things right.

“That won’t be possible for any of the countries that qualify, so everybody is going to have to select their squad in a very short period of time. It is going to be key to get those decisions right.”

Making such key decisions will be tough for Southgate, who will oversee matches in March, June and September next year ahead of selecting his squad – with England needing just a point away to minnows San Marino on Monday night to assure themselves of a place in Qatar.

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That is why he admits the goodwill of clubs to provide much-needed information will be more important than ever.

“I think, without a doubt, that medically we will hope to get the help of clubs because medically you can’t always get the full picture until the players are with us,” he added.

“And because the turnaround is so tight, we are going to need a bit more insight.

“The other side of that is that clubs have got their own schedules to run and we never want to interfere with players when they’re in that situation.

“So I’m always respectful when they’re competing with their clubs to pick the right moment to speak with them and visit.

“But every club has always allowed us that opportunity and we’ve got to make sure we keep that as much as we can.”