SportsEnglish Managers May Deny Players From Representing Countries

English Managers May Deny Players From Representing Countries

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BEVERLY HILLS, March 04, (THEWILL) – Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has suggested that his English Premier League club Manchester United could prevent players from travelling for international duty later this month. This especially concerns talismanic Red Devil player Bruno Fernandes.

Solskjaer’s comments imply that the Manchester side might step in to stop the gifted playmaker from teaming up with the Portuguese national team ahead of their World Cup qualifiers against Azerbaijan, Serbia and Luxembourg all scheduled for the international break towards the end of this month.

Current coronavirus protocols include UK government restrictions that dictate that players from a selection of countries in Europe, Africa and South America will be forced to quarantine for 10 days upon their return to the UK. For any player affected, this subsequently implies missing club training and fixtures for the period.

At this crunch time in the season, with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City comfortably in the lead with a 14-point cushion, United desperately require all hands on deck for their intention to pursue the men from the Etihad while maintaining a winning streak along the way. This they cannot successfully prosecute if a player of Fernandes’ calibre has to be away for any length of time.

World football governing body, FIFA, made a case for United when it gave clubs the power to stop players from travelling to represent their countries on international duty if it means they will be faced with quarantine restrictions upon their return as the world continues to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.

This will be the case for Fernandes, were he to travel for the international break. No less than a 10-day isolation period will greet his return from Portugal to the EPL. This is not a circumstance that Solskjaer welcomes and the manager is prepared to take advantage of FIFA’s new regulation for the team’s benefit.

Responding to questions about Fernandes, the manager said: “We have not sat down and made a proper call on that one but it doesn’t make sense if you lose your player for 10 days’ isolation because we are the ones paying the players.

“From what I understand, that (being allowed to ban players travelling) is the rule. FIFA have given the rule that they don’t have to be released, so it is going to be a hard call to make to let them play in red-list countries.

“I want Bruno ready for Brighton and hopefully we will be through in Europe and against Tottenham after that.”

If Fernandes featured in all three of Portugal’s qualifiers during the international break, he would be unavailable for United’s Premier League games against Brighton on 3 April and Tottenham on 10 April.

Solskjaer’s comments did not go as far as those of the German manager Jurgen Klopp’s, whose defending champions Liverpool, could be severely affected by the break and who, even more than United, need every available player ready to go.

On Wednesday, Klopp insisted that the club will not be releasing players for international duty if they will face a 10-day quarantine period upon their return.

“I think everyone agrees we cannot let the players go and play for their country and come back and quarantine for 10 days in a hotel, that is not how we can do it.”

National team coaches have not officially reacted to this development but it is clear that they will not welcome such responses from managers of clubsides that their biggest stars play for especially for countries that need to get the results that will help their teams qualify convincingly.


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