PRE-SEASON BREAK

England’s Prem stars – including Arsenal ace Bukayo Saka – will get a two-week break next season – although not an official one.

But overseas players from outside Europe face a globe-trotting fortnight while team-mates have their feet up.

The FA and Prem agreed to a three-season trial of the “mid season player break” starting in February 2020.

But the impact of the pandemic on last season’s congested fixtures meant the trial was temporarily abandoned – and there is no return of the “split” fixtures for the 2021-22 campaign.

Instead, the new fixtures list showed consecutive weekends at the end of January and beginning of February without Prem games.

That is partly because the FA Cup fourth round will take place on the weekend of February 5th and 6th.

But with Fifa having squeezed in a series of catch-up World Cup qualifiers in Africa, Asia, South America, Concacaf and Oceania for the last week of January, it meant no Prem games were possible for January 29.

With League matches due on the weekend of January 22 and then again in the midweek starting Tuesday February 8, it could see a number of Gareth Southgate’s squad having as much as 17 days off if they are rested for the FA Cup tie.

Other Europeans will also be able to take advantage of the rest.

But the likes of Egypt’s Mo Salah, Korea’s Heung-min Son and Brazilians Ederson, Alisson and Richarlison will all be expected to head back to their home continents to play two or three 2022 qualifiers before returning to the UK.





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