Chris Holt’s Sheffield Wednesday Column: Unfair on clubs ...this is not the right time for international fixtures

Barry Bannan has been on international duty with Scotland this week along with Jordan Rhodes and Steven Fletcher
Barry Bannan has been on international duty with Scotland this week along with Jordan Rhodes and Steven Fletcher
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He always expresses his pride at seeing Sheffield Wednesday players called up to represent their countries, but deep down there must have been a certain amount of dread flowing through Carlos Carvalhal during this international break.

With a treatment room already containing far too many players than he would have liked, the thought of having key men like Jordan Rhodes, Barry Bannan, Steven Fletcher and Keiren Westwood out of the camp and out of his control must make for a nervy time for Carvalhal.

And it begs the question; should there be international games at this stage of the season?

All across Europe, leagues are reaching pivotal stages of the season, managers are cautious about ensuring their players are in the right condition for the run in - be that challenging for honours, European spots, play-off places or fighting relegation.

And right in amongst that, they have to wave goodbye to some of their players and place them in the hands of others.

It’s bad enough that there are qualifiers - hugely competitive qualifiers at that, with the groups beginning to take shape for the World Cup.

But through in a few needless friendlies and the nerves can become even greater for the clubs.

On Wednesday night Scotland played on a bog of an Easter Road pitch against a Canada side who are progressing as a nation and would have loved nothing more than to take the scalp of European side with notable traditions, even if the present Scottish side doesn’t live up to those who have pulled on the blue jersey in the past.

Had Carvalhal been watching at all, he must have done so through his fingers as Rhodes and Bannan played the majority of the second half against a team who weren’t treating it as a friendly.

Next week the Republic of Ireland take on Iceland in another non-competitive game, which, should Westwood not play in the qualifier against Wales tonight, the keeper will most likely have some part in.

All this with about six weeks of the season left.

It’s madness that clubs have to go through a training period without a couple of their players at this stage of the campaign and on top of that, hope against hope that they are returned unscathed.

Fixture schedules are already congested but this is a period when clubs should be left alone to deal with the varying challenges that lie ahead. Not worry about whether they’ll get their men back.