Premier League players (who don’t play for their national teams) have a chance to rest their weary legs this week.
The upcoming international break means most Premier League teams don’t play for two weeks. Normally, an international break is an inconvenience in the Premier League.
It could put a premature stop to a good run of form, disrupt rhythm and generally distract from domestic ambitions.
This time it’s different. This time, Premier League players and managers will be delighted to have a break.
What we have just been through is the most grueling winter schedule in recent memory. While some teams undoubtedly gamed the system with regards to postponements, make no mistake that squads have been limping to make it to this point.
A combination of the AFCON, the omicron variant and regular injuries and suspensions has decimated teams. As a result, players have been pushed to play when they ought to be resting, which leads to more injuries.
Due to the postponed games, it is a contradictory sort of fatigue, almost like being depressed. It feels like not a lot has happened since some teams went weeks without playing a league fixture.
It is an exhaustion borne of nothing happening, which is the most dangerous kind – particularly when you have to get yourself ready to play football at the highest level without being able to condition your body properly.
According to reports, all the players are looking forward to a break. They’d best make the most of it though, because it’s the only break they’re getting for a while. With the requirement to play the canceled games, a world cup next winter and then another AFCON next year, they’re going to be playing non stop.
Oh, and Covid-19 will also continue to be an issue. A serious conversation about player welfare needs to take place, and it needs to take place now.