Gareth Southgate has urged Premier League clubs to revisit the five substitute ruling following yet more injuries to players amid a congested fixture list.
Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling are the latest England players to withdraw from the squad after picking up injuries during the international break, joining Ben Chilwell on the sidelines after the left-back was substituted during the 2-0 defeat to Belgium with a back issue.
Joe Gomez will also miss tomorrow’s Nations League clash with Iceland after sustaining a serious knee injury during training last week and the defender is now expected to miss the majority of the season, with Southgate urging Premier League clubs to reconsider their decision to abandon the five-sub ruling.
English football is the only of Europe’s major leagues to have reverted back to using three substitutes ahead of the 2020/21 season, after the use of additional substitutes having been temporarily introduced following the division’s rapid return from it’s pandemic enforced three-month hiatus last season.
The matter of continuing with the use of extra substitutes was voted against by a majority of Premier League clubs who believed the ruling would favour the bigger clubs with deeper squads, though Southgate has called on sides to reconsider amid the increasing number of injuries.
“We were able to make five changes against Belgium – we made four in the end – and clubs don’t have that option,” Southgate said at a press conference.
“What will it take for that to change? There were a couple of less serious injuries against Belgium but what do we do? Wait until we get a load of really nasty ones?”
The former defender admitted that he has concerns about the longer-term welfare of the players, with last season’s winter break having been scrapped for this term as the authorities cram all the fixtures in ahead of next summers re-scheduled Euro’s.
“I have to be fair to the club managers. They are their players firstly and they have the right to play them as they see fit,” he added.
“(Injuries are) a worry in the longer term because with no winter break, something has to give.”
England’s defeat to Belgium last weekend ended the nation’s hopes of reaching a second successive Nations League finals, Southgate’s side currently third in the group ahead of their final fixture against winless Iceland tomorrow.