The international break is an acquired taste at the best of times. The usual complaints come in the form of tedious qualifiers, national heartache and interrupting our regularly scheduled domestic programming just when it’s getting interesting.
But aside from the dross and Scottish and Welsh torment, a further frustrations has reared its ugly head.
You know the Premier League managers would really love to say how they feel about the subject. More so when it happens during international friendly games than in recent qualifiers.
Seeing the bosses bite their lips when their vital players return from representing their counties injured is always an interesting experience. We know what they’re thinking.
So which manager is kicking the cat the most after losing players ahead of the return of domestic football on Saturday?
Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi six weeks after the German injured a hamstring in a meaningless match for the 100 per cent world champions in Azerbaijan.
“We’ve lost Mustafi for about four to six weeks,” said Gunners manager Arsene Wenger, before chucking in: “I don’t think he will be available before the next international break.”
Adding to the fact fellow centre back Laurent Koscielny’s Achilles flared up again while away with France, Wenger is cursing his luck.
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But the biggest victims in terms of importance of a lost player must be Liverpool. However Jurgen Klopp tries to dress it up as an opportunity for others, losing Sadio Mane until December rankles.
He is likely to miss eight game – including three pivotal Champions League games after playing for Senegal against Cape Verde last Saturday.
Chelsea are sweating. Rumours in France suggest N’Golo Kante has suffered a tear in his hamstring. As the Premier League champions await their own medics’ assessment after the midfielder hobbled off early into the Group A game with Bulgaria. He won’t play against Crystal Palace this weekend, that’s for sure.
Now suddenly a vital cog in the Manchester United engine room, Marouane Fellaini’s importance will become a lot clearer in the coming weeks.
A sure starter at Anfield, the Belgian is out for three week with knee ligament damage sustained in the other Red Devils’ victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The last thing Southampton need right now is to lose a goalscorer, and Shane Long is expected to miss their match with Newcastle United after his sudden withdrawal from the Republic of Ireland’s vital game with Wales on Monday.
It all went wrong for the Welsh when Joe Allen walked off in Cardiff. Stoke City’s midfielder got concussion after hitting his head on the turf.
Mark Hughes will have to make a call on him for their game with Manchester City, while AFC Bournemouth’s Josh King – who scored twice for Norway in their victory over San Marino – didn’t play against Northern Ireland on Sunday because of a hamstring injury. He’s a doubt for the Cherries Premier League match with Tottenham.