This is a message to those who administer the Championship of the English Football League, thinly disguised as a piece written for MyFootballWriter.
As I write, we are currently being forced to fulfil a fixture at Deepdale, home of Preston North End FC at 1500 hours on Good Friday, April 2. We have asked for this fixture to be moved to the following day to allow a swathe of our players a little recovery time from their international commitments, with at least six of these players returning as late as the early hours of Thursday, April 1. An appropriate date.
While you, the EFL, will move a match to 0300 on a Monday morning for the sake of television you have rejected our request out of hand. I can understand Preston themselves not agreeing to the brief delay because they have no current internationals unless one of their Under-23s plays for either San Marino or the Faroe Islands. If such a player exists I apologise for my ignorance of his international pedigree.
So unless you, the EFL [who have every right to overrule any Preston objections], change your minds we are faced with a situation like this.
We have two senior goalkeepers away on international duty. Tim Krul is with the Netherlands and Orjan Nyland is on duty for Norway, while our third – 20-year-old Daniel Barden – was supposed to be away with the Welsh Under-21s but had to withdraw due to injury. We have no further senior keepers available as Michael Govern will not be back in team training until mid-April at the earliest.
So, let’s proceed to the back four. Max Aarons has been called up by England Under-21s and Grant Hanley into the Scotland squad, Dimitris Giannoulis is required by Greece. But after a bad incident involving a concussion, whether or not he joins up with his national squad remains in the lap of the gods. (He did – Ed).
In addition, centre-back Andrew Omobamidele has also been called up by the Republic of Ireland Under-21s.
Moving into defensive midfield, Oliver Skipp joins Max in the England Under-21s while Kenny McLean accompanies Grant on Scotland duty. Does it get any easier for us from here?
No, not really.
Moving on to the 3-1 of our archetypal 4-2-3-1, we have Teemu Pukki, a Finnish national hero, potentially playing two qualifiers and possibly a meaningless friendly. And Mason Greenwood, God bless him, has done a last-minute drop out from the England Under-21 squad, so Todd Cantwell joins up with Max and Olly.
Are you watching, EFL? Do you care? I know the answer to both questions.
Then if we consider what roughly currently constitutes our bench we have Pepe Placheta with Poland and quite possibly Onel Hernandez with Cuba. If Adam Idah or Michael McGovern had been fit or available they would have been away with the RoI and Northern Ireland respectively.
Do you, the EFL, think I have the right to deny any of these players to turn out for their respective countries?
No, I do not have that right. But I have the absolute right to demand from you: when an absolute minimum of six of these players will not return to the UK until [at best] the early hours of Thursday morning after playing on the preceding Wednesday night, what gives you the right to refuse a kick-off delay against Preston by around 18 hours or so?
You’d be quick enough to move a fixture for television money – the EFL gets a cut just like the clubs do. Because there’s no money in it for you, you won’t sanction briefly moving the fixture just to give us a fighting chance of fielding a minimally refreshed squad?
I don’t give a monkey’s chuff that the PNE board have dispensed with the services of wee Alex Neil. Big Frankie McAvoy has nearly a fortnight to work with their squad while by the time the NCFC squad reconvenes, some of our players probably won’t even remember who their returning colleagues are.
Should this fixture not be deferred it will prove what we already know. Those in power are prepared to sit back and watch as players, ever willing in the case of our current crop, are flogged to death on a whim. Their whim.
And what might the knock-on effect be? I’ll spell it out but MFW readers will instinctively know anyway.
Muscle strains, pulls and tears. Plus the possibility of much more serious injury.
Daniel Farke and his coaching team, particularly head of performance Chris Domogalla, will surely be dreading this fixture for the reasons I have mentioned and will have a more informed inside track than I could ever hope to possess. Will they even have time to evaluate the returnees before seeing if they can train?
EFL: This is not a whine on behalf of NCFC. It’s a personal plea for you to utilise some common sense.
Our club will cope with whatever you chuck at us.
Even if we’re being penalised for having too many international players for your apparent liking.
Come on you EFL suits – prove you’re not the bunch of to$$.ers we currently think you are and do the decent thing.
Put the fe.cking game back until Saturday!!!
Yours with no faith