Southgate says League has taken toll on players

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Gareth Southgate’s England reached the World Cup semi-finals in July. Reuters

SEVILLE (Reuters) – England coach Gareth Southgate said the Premier League’s early start was a factor in some of his players lacking sharpness or suffering from injury and questioned why the season began less than a month after the World Cup final.

The English top flight was the earliest of the major European leagues to start this season, kicking off on August 10, a week before Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A and a fortnight ahead of Germany’s Bundesliga.

Southgate, whose side reached the World Cup semi-finals in July, believes his players and teams across the league are paying the consequences of a lack of rest.

“I don’t understand why our league started so early but it did and it’s a really difficult situation for the clubs,” Southgate said in a news conference on Sunday.

“Some couldn’t field a team. Look at Tottenham, they had so many players in the semi-final and they had to put players straight into matches, it’s an impossible situation for the coaches really.”

England captain Harry Kane is one player believed to be suffering from a lack of rest, although the striker has said he does not need time off.

“I think it’s a lack of psychological freshness rather than physical,” added Southgate.

“When you look at the league, there’s a lot of teams that have got going yet; there’s been lots of injuries.”

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