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Gareth Southgate to talk with England players over burn-out fears

Gareth Southgate will hold key talks with his England players this week amid growing burn-out concerns from the Premier League’s elite.

The Three Lions boss will name his first squad in 10 months next week ahead of next month’s UEFA Nations League games against Iceland and Denmark, which take place on September 5 and 8.

But Southgate will explore the option of either resting players completely or managing their involvement as international football makes its long-awaited return. 

Premier League managers are concerned about losing their top stars to international duty, given the next set of fixtures are scheduled to take place just a few days before the start of the new domestic season and so soon after the previous campaign ended.

Speaking on Saturday, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said: ‘Authorities will give us as much rest as we can. Hopefully the national team coaches will do the same as well.’

England staff and Southgate are fully aware of the fatigue factor ahead of the matches in Scandinavia — particularly for his Manchester City and Manchester United contingent, whose seasons only ended last week due to their involvement in the latter stages of European competition. FA medics will discuss the issue with their counterparts at clubs who have players likely to be at risk after a long season.

The information from those talks will be relayed to Southgate, who will in turn contact those players who have been identified as candidates for either missing the games altogether or having their involvement limited.   

Given he has not seen his players since November, Southgate is understandably keen to have as strong a squad as possible. But equally, the England boss and his staff will take a common-sense approach to his plans for the matches.

Raheem Sterling, Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who were all involved in European competition last week, are among the players who played the most minutes for their clubs last season and post-lockdown.

It means Southgate is likely to name an extended squad for the games in Iceland and Denmark as he tries to navigate the issue of player welfare.

That will increase the chances of a first international call-up for Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood, who have both played a key role for their clubs post-lockdown. Jack Grealish will also be hopeful of his first senior selection.

Elsewhere, Chris Powell is welcome to maintain his role in Southgate’s backroom team despite his new role as a youth coach at Tottenham. 

Powell’s move to Spurs’ academy has cast uncertainty over his current coaching role under Southgate. But both parties are happy for Powell to continue his role with the England senior team. There is, though, an understanding his commitment to Spurs could limit the time he can give to being part of Southgate’s staff.

Meanwhile, UEFA will hold a meeting on Wednesday to decide how to cope with the increasing quarantine regulations attached to international travel.

As elite athletes, players are exempt from having to quarantine after travelling to compete. But there are doubts over the protocols, given some footballers are currently on holiday in countries that require self-isolation upon return.

While players and staff are unlikely to have to quarantine, federation representatives and journalists could be required to isolate after the next round of international fixtures. 

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