Sunderland’s Sam Allardyce hits out at number of international breaks

Sam Allardyce
Sam Allardyce

Sam Allardyce has slammed the number of international breaks in the opening months of the Premier League campaign as “irresponsible”.

Top flight and Championship clubs are in their third two-week spell without fixtures to allow Euro 2016 play-off matches and World Cup qualifying ties to take place.

It’s irresponsible as far as I’m concerned.

Sunderland boss, Sam Allardyce

While Allardyce, who has only been in the Sunderland job four weeks, concedes the break will help him get to know his players better.

He believes the stop-start nature of the opening three months of the Premier League season is “too much” when managers are trying to get their teams to gel and perform to their potential.

Sunderland have six first team regulars away, while Duncan Watmore – who made his full debut against Southampton - is with Gareth Southgate’s Under 21 squad.

Allardyce said: “Three international breaks in the first three months is a bit much when you’re trying to put a squad together and have just built it.

“It’s irresponsible as far as I’m concerned.

“That’s one of the reasons why you get criticised a lot more, when people say you’re not playing as a team.”

The break from fixtures will, at least, give Allardyce and his coaching staff time to work on finding a winning system for struggling Sunderland, 19th in the league.

The Black Cats, who haven’t named the same starting line-up for more than a year, have switched between 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 and 3-5-2 as first Dick Advocaat, and now Allardyce attempt, to get the best out of the players available to him.

Allardyce is hoping those away come back injury free ahead of a tough run of fixtures in the run up to Christmas, starting with Crystal Palace away on Monday, November 23.

“I think the break is a help as you get to work more with the players,” Allardyce added.

“Obviously, there’s a difficulty depending on how many go away and then you don’t see them again, that can be a distraction.

“I was listening to [West Brom boss] Tony Pulis saying this is the third time since the start of the season that we’ve lost our players, which is not what you really want.

“But this time, I suppose, with the players we’ve got left we can work more with them and get to know them better.

“We just have to hope those who go away don’t get injured, like Ola [Toivonen] did in the last one.

“There’s more of a problem with injuries, for me, than international breaks.”

Centre back Sebastian Coates is away with Uruguay for World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Chile, while Sebastian Larsson and Toivonen are with Sweden ahead of their two-legged Euro 2016 play-off with Denmark.

Captain John O’Shea has been called up by the Republic of Ireland for their play-off with Bosnia-Herzegovina despite struggling with a hamstring injury.

O’Shea is suspended for the first leg anyway and is a major doubt for the second. His injury is currently being assessed and he remains in Sunderland.

Costel Pantilimon is away with Romania for a friendly with Italy, while DeAndre Yedlin is in the USA squad for World Cup qualifiers against St Vincent/Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago.

Watmore and on-loan Preston North End stopper Jordan Pickford are with the England Under-21 camp for Euro qualifiers against Bosnia Herzegovina and Switzerland.