Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola agrees with Jose Mourinho that the international calendar places too great a demand on players, describing the number of matches as “ridiculous”.
Mourinho said this week that he was “totally against” friendly matches being held in the middle of the domestic season after Manchester United defenders Phil Jones and Chris Smalling both picked up long-term injuries while on England duty this month.
Guardiola understands the need for national teams to be given the chance to experiment with personnel and systems before competitive matches, but he feels there are simply too many fixtures to make international friendlies worthwhile.
“The federations want the players as much as possible for the games,” he told a news conference ahead of City’s Premier League clash with Arsenal on Sunday.
“Of course we want all the players to go there. We want to come back safe and play as few minutes as possible.
“I agree a little bit [with Mourinho]. All the clubs are here for many, many minutes and people are training for the Premier League, the Champions League, Europa League and the qualifications.
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“It’s a risk to play a friendly game. To avoid them would be better in my view. It’s too many games. It’s crazy how many games there are in all the leagues.
“Always the national team deserves to play games but when we have 20 games in a thousand million competitions, and then after the Confederations Cup and after the games, it looks a little ridiculous.”
Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne were City’s only players to pick up injury worries on international duty but both are expected to be available to face Arsenal.
“Except Gabriel Jesus and [Ilkay] Gundogan, the others are okay,” said Guardiola. “They are not top, top perfect but, yeah, they are fit.”
As for Jesus, Guardiola still hopes he will be available to return from a broken foot before the end of the season.
“He was in New York. It was freezing. He told me that,” added Guardiola when asked for news of the Brazil forward’s recovery.
“The crutches are gone. He started to work and hopefully he will start to run and then help us in the last games of the season and then come back fit in the pre-season.”