Despite the unquestioned need for these games, as a Liverpool fan this tends to be a tense time with mixed emotions. The reason I can’t fully sit back, relax and completely enjoy these games is the nagging worry of an injury setback to one of our players.
The record on this score makes pretty grim reading with players like Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge, Sebastian Coates and others all suffering injuries on international duty which though disappointing to the national teams turned out pretty more so for the Redmen. Frustrating yes, avoidable unfortunately not.
Although seen by some as an enforced interruption on matters of more importance, the reality is these international fixtures are most definitely needed. Their timing itself can’t really be helped as the crazy congestion of games in football means whenever you try to schedule the fixtures would cause an interruption or slight disruption at best. We can only exercise patience, enjoy the games as best we can and hope our highly prized assets return in one piece.
The fact players represent such a substantial investment means their clubs have to look after their interests as best they can. Gone are the days of simply refusing to let their players go but still very present and rightly so is the influence clubs can exert on national team management. It’s always interesting to see the number of withdrawals from squads in the let’s say less meaningful friendlies. You can bet your bottom dollar many of these are under instruction from clubs not wanting to risk their players unnecessarily.
Not only clubs though; many players as well seem to value domestic football above its international counterpart. Dan ‘The Man’ Sturridge has just recently got himself into ‘hot’ water on Twitter over apparently stating success with Liverpool is more important that winning honours with England. One tabloid quoted Sturridge as saying:
“I’m more worried about Liverpool and more worried about putting in good performances for us, us winning games and challenging for trophies… That’s my main ambition – it’s not about playing for England. That comes with doing the things you do for your club and if I don’t play well here, I won’t get the opportunity to do it there [World Cup finals].”
While as a Red those words were music to my ears the same can’t be said for certain supporters supposedly enraged Sturridge could place club before country.
Sturridge took to Twitter in response to some vile backlash:
“Some people never understand. Read the interview. If I do well for my club I will play for England. If I’m not fit I can’t play…”
“the foundation for national team football is your club. Without Lfc id be sat on Chelsea bench not in England squad”
However I can totally understand where Sturridge is coming from and disappointing as it may sound, international football has been forced to take a back seat for a long time now. You only need to look at the number and ages of players announcing their international retirement these days. The priority and focus for many has become the domestic game and ensuring their involvement for as long as physically possible.
So when all’s said and done international football may provide the greatest success a player can achieve in the game however domestic honours are for many the higher priority. Right or wrong the highlight of the international break for me is always at the end when I find out no Liverpool players were injured!
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