Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Debate: Should Top Players Be Excluded From Meaningless International Friendlies?

Last weekend and midweek action involved another round of international games. Some matches were important like the playoffs for the right to feature in the 2010 South Africa World Cup Finals but all too many were unimportant games that counted for absolutely nothing. The question that pops to mind was should the top players be excluded from playing in them to avoid injury?

Robin Van Persie sidelined - From TimesOnline

I know that this brings up loads of potential talking points such as who do you classify as a top player etc. etc. But a lot of the time, it is quite clear that some players are not needed. That, as long as they keep their form up for their club, they will play for their country.

International friendlies do have their place but that shouldn't be just before Christmas when the league fixtures schedule is already tight and the next competitive international match is not until next summer. Friendlies should occur just before the competition when you know which players are fit because there is a good chance there will be at least one injury that will cause a player not to make the World Cup roster.

Chelsea duo, John Terry and Frank Lampard both picked up injuries during their trip with England and Robin Van Persie looks to be sidelined for 6 weeks after lasting only 10 minutes playing in a friendly for the Netherlands. These losses to Chelsea and Arsenal could put their title bids off track, which is bad enough for the supporters and club when they got injured in a game that mattered but getting injured in a friendly that could have been avoided makes the whole thing seem a little pointless.

The obvious answer to the problem is only to have international friendlies in the weeks leading up to competitive games or tournaments. The only other solution is being a second string (B) team getting the call up instead of the top players. Ultimately, these players still have clubs who need them fit to play so this only protects the big clubs and not the small ones.

I have never been a big fan of international football but I do understand the importance of it to players who want to represent their country but sometimes I feel a little more common sense need to be adopted when arranging the fixtures of non-competitive international matches.

Written by Mark Ferguson, a sports writer who blogs about cheap football shirts.

So, what do you think? Should top players be excluded from meaningless international friendlies? The Flat Back Four is open to comments!

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