What is your Premier League club doing during the international break? – The Athletic

By UK Staff5h ago

There are nine days until the unadulterated melodrama of the Premier League returns.

While international football takes centre stage in the men’s game, with high-profile friendlies, European Championship qualification play-offs and the culmination of this season’s CONCACAF Nations League some of the highlights, the world keeps on turning for the players and managers of England’s top flight.

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With some Premier League teams navigating breaks of nearly three weeks due to fixture postponements caused by last weekend’s FA Cup quarter-finals, how exactly are the division’s 20 clubs killing time?

The Athletic’s Premier League writers found out.

Arsenal

Arsenal have an unusually long lay-off, with no fixture between their Champions League tie against Porto on March 12 and the Premier League clash with Manchester City on March 31.

Ordinarily, the club would make use of such a pronounced gap with a warm-weather training camp but the fact that most players will be required for international duty made that impractical. Instead, Arsenal’s players were given five days off after the Porto game.

Mikel Arteta had originally planned to have the squad in for recovery the following day but ended up releasing them immediately after the penalty shootout victory. Many of the squad took advantage of that to travel and enjoy a holiday before they joined up with their international squads.

James McNicholas

Aston Villa

The international break has given Aston Villa a much-needed breather. Unai Emery’s side have been beset by injuries all season and having progressed into the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa Conference League, a thin squad will be tested during an unrelenting schedule.

So Emery has given his players — those who are not away with their countries — time off. He is expected to go abroad for a few days, while Monchi, president of football operations, has travelled to the United States for meetings with co-owner Wes Edens.

Meanwhile, those who are out injured remain working on getting back up to speed, and rest and time away is the order of the day for Villa’s squad.

Jacob Tanswell

Bournemouth

Due to their previously scheduled opponents Wolverhampton Wanderers’ participation in the FA quarter-finals last weekend, Bournemouth have been afforded a gap of 17 days between games.

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Head coach Andoni Iraola, however, brought the squad back together immediately after their previous game against Luton Town. This was a concerted effort to ensure players remained together before separating due to international commitments.

Despite the fortnight break, Iraola revealed plans of giving his players just “three or four days off” before they returned to training, while those working their way back from injury, such as Lloyd Kelly and James Hill, are set to play for Bournemouth’s development squad.

Jacob Tanswell

Lloyd Kelly has missed Bournemouth’s last five games with a hip injury (Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images)

Brentford

Brentford’s squad can almost be broken down into two distinct categories — players who are on international duty and players recovering from injury.

The club’s staff will spend the next nine days frantically trying to help Ethan Pinnock recover from an ankle injury in time to face Manchester United on March 30.

Bryan Mbeumo made a 15-minute cameo from the bench in their 2-1 defeat to Burnley last Saturday, following three months out after ankle surgery, and will continue to build up his fitness too.

All eyes will be on Ivan Toney, though, as he could earn his second cap for England after being included in Gareth Southgate’s squad for their friendlies against Brazil and Belgium.

Jay Harris

Brighton & Hove Albion

Brighton have a longer break than a lot of clubs to recharge and regroup for the final push to qualify for Europe for the second season in succession via a high league finish.

Their return to league action following the exit from the last 16 of the Europa League on March 14 against Roma, a 4-1 loss on aggregate, is not until March 31 at Liverpool.

Roberto De Zerbi loses a large chunk of his squad to international duty. Those players left behind will be given some time off after a hectic spell of six matches in 20 days.

Joao Pedro and James Milner will continue to work on recovering from injuries which have kept out the club’s 19-goal top scorer and versatile veteran since February 3 and January 30 respectively.

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Andy Naylor

Burnley

The international break has come at a bad time for Burnley after they finally secured their first win of 2024.

But manager Vincent Kompany does not view a gap in his team’s fixture schedule in the same way and will continue to use breaks in the season to maximise training time to give his players the best possible chance of improbable survival. Kompany and his coaching staff will reflect on the previous block of games to look for areas to improve.

Players have been given time off before they reconvene. Alongside their intense training sessions and meetings, Burnley usually organise a behind-closed-doors game if an opponent is available.

The break offers the chance for some players to continue building fitness. Lyle Foster returned for a brief cameo against Brentford after surgery while Jordan Beyer will be a step closer to returning.

Andrew Jones

Chelsea

As with any international break, the Chelsea players not called to represent their countries were given Monday off to refresh their bodies and minds before resuming training at Cobham. The same went for head coach Mauricio Pochettino.

Despite reduced numbers, the training ground will still be a hive of activity — not least the medical department, which continues to manage the recovery and rehabilitation of a small army of first-team players including long-term absentees Reece James, Wesley Fofana and Romeo Lavia.

Others, such as Christopher Nkunku and Levi Colwill, will be hoping to make big strides towards returning sooner rather than later.

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Crystal Palace

Palace have the benefit of a three-week break rather than two after their Premier League match with Newcastle United was postponed due to Newcastle’s FA Cup participation.

New manager Oliver Glasner took the opportunity to take his squad away to Marbella for several days last week as part of a squad-bonding exercise that aimed to develop more familiarity not only with the new coaching staff but with Glasner’s desired playing style.

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A 1-0 friendly win over Norwegian side Bodo/Glimt was useful to maintain sharpness and for Glasner to see players he otherwise wouldn’t, making 11 changes at half-time.

Those who have not travelled on international duty will continue to work on the new system in training. Palace have been provided with a crucial opportunity to work on fitness and also how to avoid conceding late goals.

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Matt Woosnam

Everton

Everton are another club to have a three-week break — and they got an early start on preparations by flying to Quinta do Lago in Portugal’s Algarve for a mini-camp.

Their facility has been used by the Dutch national team and the Ireland rugby team in recent months. Sean Dyche’s plan was for a refresh — but not for a physical rest, instead attempting to find what the manager termed “an edge” in the season’s last 10 games. Intensity was high early on, with a series of small-sided matches, as well as daily fitness work.

 

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The plan was also for the side to bond off the pitch — but an incident involving Dyche and right-back Nathan Patterson at a restaurant, where the manager’s joking attempt at a slap connected more forcefully than intended, was a flashpoint. Its importance has been played down internally and the squad have since returned for a few days of leave.

They will enter a more normal pattern back at Finch Farm, preparing particularly for winnable upcoming games at Bournemouth, at Newcastle United and at home to Burnley.

Jacob Whitehead

Fulham

They have 15 players on senior international duty this week, which is a historically high number for Fulham.

With so many players working abroad, Fulham are staying put during this international break. The rest of the squad returned to training at Motspur Park yesterday, following a few days off in the wake of their 3-0 thumping of Tottenham Hotspur. Preparations then kick on before the run-in.

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Fulham are comfortably clear of relegation and are looking to better last year’s 10th-placed finish. If they can maintain their form, a shot at Europe is not completely out of the question.

Peter Rutzler

Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp has given those players not involved in international matches this week off to rest and recover after such a gruelling schedule.

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Top scorer Mohamed Salah is getting a break after Egypt agreed to leave him out of their squad following his recent return from injury. Meanwhile, Darwin Nunez dropped out of Uruguay’s two friendlies after complaining of tightness in his hamstring following the FA Cup defeat to Manchester United, but the expectation is that he will also be fit for Liverpool’s next game against Brighton on March 31.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Curtis Jones, Diogo Jota, Alisson and Stefan Bajcetic are among the list of absentees who are stepping up their rehab at the club’s Kirkby training base.

Including under-18, under-20 and under-21 call-ups, Klopp has 20 players away on international duty. They will reconvene early next week to prepare for the visit of De Zerbi’s side.

James Pearce

Mohamed Salah isn’t playing for Egypt during this international break (Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Luton Town

They are staying put to prepare for the run-in. Rob Edwards’ side will continue training at the Brache as normal and will not be jetting off for any March sunshine.

There had been five Luton players on international duty but yesterday, Teden Mengi returned from England Under-21s for a medical assessment. Thomas Kaminski (Belgium), Daiki Hashioka (Japan), Chiedozie Ogbene (Republic of Ireland) and Issa Kabore (Burkina Faso) are all away.

Luton have 13 players sidelined with injury (the most of any Premier League club), so this is a key time to get as many players back up and running as possible before a monumental final couple of months as they attempt to escape the relegation zone.

Caoimhe O’Neill

Manchester City

Basically, all of City’s players are on international duty, so there is nothing planned at the club beyond Jack Grealish working to get fit, with Ederson and Kevin De Bruyne also out injured.

It does also mean, apparently, that even those with their countries can get a bit of rest before the run-in.

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“We asked the lads to rest as much as possible,” Rodri said last weekend. “It’s tough but we have friendly games (for our national teams). It’s important to play for our national teams but also to think about the end of the season. The best is yet to come.”

Sam Lee

Manchester United

A total of 13 United players are away on international duty this month, with all eyes on Kobbie Mainoo after his promotion to the England squad.

He’s not the youngest United player to receive a senior call-up, though. That honour goes to 17-year-old James Scanlon — a regular for the club’s under-18s this season — who will be hoping to make his debut in Gibraltar’s two-legged Nations League play-off against Lithuania.

Back in Manchester, some of Ten Hag’s walking wounded will be coming into Carrington on individual training programmes to help their return from injury but the rest have a week off and will report back on Monday.

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Newcastle United

“Reset” is very much the buzzword inside Newcastle during this international break, with coaching staff recognising the value of using this fortnight to refresh — physically and mentally — before a run-in during which the club hope to secure European football for next season.

Eddie Howe has taken his depleted squad, which is short of numbers due to international call-ups and injuries, to Dubai this week for rest, recuperation and training. In each of the past two campaigns, warm-weather camps in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have been followed by strong and consistent Premier League form, something Howe’s 10th-placed side are desperate to rediscover.

The Newcastle head coach labelled suggestions that his side have little left to play for following their FA Cup quarter-final exit at Manchester City as “absolute nonsense” but stringing together a succession of victories has proven elusive for them in recent months and the logic of this short break away is to rectify that.

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Chris Waugh

Nottingham Forest

A dozen Forest players are away on international duty and it might have been more. Chris Wood limped off at Luton with a minor issue and will not join up with New Zealand for their game in Egypt. With Taiwo Awoniyi (Nigeria) already injured, Forest might be relieved that their other main forward option will get a rest.

Nuno Espirito Santo will not take his remaining players away on a training camp, preferring instead to focus on recuperation and preparation at the Nigel Doughty Academy as Forest prepare for a truly crucial run of games, which starts with back-to-back home matches against Crystal Palace and Fulham.

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Sheffield United

Manager Chris Wilder is in Riyadh at the moment, meeting Saudi Arabian owner Prince Abdullah to discuss the strategy for next season, but that won’t affect the training plan for those players who are not on international duty.

Seven first-team players are away, including Anel Ahmedhodzic, Ben Brereton Diaz and George Baldock. There will be a couple of days off this week for those left behind with no game but United have already had time off due to last weekend also being left blank, caused by Manchester United’s involvement in the FA Cup.

That means more time on the training pitch, particularly once Wilder returns to Sheffield.

Richard Sutcliffe

Tottenham Hotspur

For those Spurs players not on international duty (and there aren’t many), it will just be training as normal, with head coach Ange Postecoglou looking to repeat the formula that has worked well in previous international breaks.

“Nothing too unusual from other international windows,” he said on Friday when asked what he and the team had planned. “We won’t have many left here, so we’ll do the work with them and then the others will have their commitments.

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“Then, when we get back, we have Luton on the Saturday and most of the boys are back on the Thursday.”

Charlie Eccleshare

Richarlison returned to action for Spurs against Fulham last time out – the forward is expected to get minutes for Brazil during this break (Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

West Ham United

For the players not on international duty, manager David Moyes has given them time off. When they return to Rush Green, no training camps are planned but some members of the under-21s will be involved due to the lack of numbers.

Jarrod Bowen (England), Lucas Paqueta (Brazil), Alphonse Areola (France), Nayef Aguerd (Morocco), Konstantinos Mavropanos (Greece), Tomas Soucek (Czech Republic) and Edson Alvarez (Mexico) are away on international duty, with West Ham’s next league game against Newcastle United on March 30.

Roshane Thomas

Wolverhampton Wanderers

The first-team areas of Wolves’ Compton Park training ground will be something of a ghost town this week, with almost every player away.

A large proportion of the senior players are on international duty while some injured squad members will be in for treatment but the rest have been given the week off to unwind with their families after a mentally taxing period that culminated in Saturday’s crushing FA Cup defeat against Coventry City.

They have been given individual training programmes to follow to keep their bodies ticking over and will return to the training ground at the weekend to begin gearing up for the final 10-game section of the season.

Steve Madeley

(Top photo: Everton manager Sean Dyche and defender James Tarkowski during their team’s training camp in Portugal; Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images)

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