England manager Gareth Southgate has stressed clubs will need to be more cooperative than ever heading into next year's World Cup. Following a 5-0 win over Albania, the Three Lions need just a point against San Marino next week to qualify for the tournament, which is being held in Qatar between November 21 and December 18.
With the competition being held in the middle of the European football calendar, the biggest competitions are being forced to take a hiatus in order to accommodate it. On Friday, the Premier League confirmed the dates for the 2022-23 season, which will begin a week earlier than usual on August 6, and run until May 28, 2023.
The league will pause on November 13, meaning some national teams will have as few as eight days with their full squads prior to the World Cup's scheduled start date and the Premier League will then resume on Boxing Day, only eight days after the final.
Though the fixture list is set to be congested – a factor that was also seen to have a negative impact on player welfare in the 2020-21 season, which was condensed due to the COVID-19 pandemic – Southgate believes the opportunity for players to have a longer break prior to pre-season training does provide some balance.
And he has called on clubs to work even closer with England's staff to ensure players are available.
"I think there's a balance there because even with the internationals in the summer, there is the opportunity for three or four weeks of rest and potentially three weeks of pre-season," he told reporters.
And added: "What’s important is that there is a break at the end of this season. Next season is unique. Normally we go into tournaments picking up the pieces at the end of a season, but this will be during the season. The unknown is what will happen with the tight turnaround after the last league matches. Sometimes when you pick up any injuries before summer tournaments, you can sometimes have a few weeks to get things right."
"That won't be possible for any of the countries that qualify, so everybody is going to have to select their squad in a very short period of time. It is going to be key to get those decisions right." Southgate, in turn, hopes to maintain the strong relationship he enjoys with the clubs of his players.
"I think, without a doubt, that medically we will hope to get the help of clubs because medically you can't always get the full picture until the players are with us," he added.
"Because the turnaround is so tight, we are going to need a bit more insight. The other side of that is that clubs have got their own schedules to run and we never want to interfere with players when they're in that situation", he explained.
"So I'm always respectful when they're competing with their clubs to pick the right moment to speak with them and visit. But every club has always allowed us that opportunity and we’ve got to make sure we keep that as much as we can", he finished.