Controversy over England friendly three days before the Premier League kick-off

Three days before the 2010/11 season is due to begin, England play Hungary in their first friendly since their dire World Cup campaign in South Africa. Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has already asked the most obvious of questions – why? Why must the players risk their fitness in a match that counts for nothing in terms of qualifying for major competitions?

The friendly will be significant for one person. Fabio Capello must re-build an England squad that are willing to fulfil the requirements of the service to perform to their potential. Capello has some difficult decisions to make, some of which may spark controversy as we slowly witness the ‘Golden Generation’ of players disappear and see a new era emerge from the ashes. If the game is used in order to instigate a change in personnel then it will serve a purpose, even more so with England’s first Euro 2012 qualifier against Bulgaria on 3 September. The game will give Capello the chance to trial and test the players that have not had the opportunity to impress for their country.

Arguably some of the players we will see in the friendly should have been included in the squad that went to South Africa. But with the tournament’s bad memories fading further into the recesses of our brain, we can only hope the match, albeit badly timed, will be duly justified with a good result. If victory is pulled off by a group of players that are unfamiliar with the Wembley dressing room and indeed, the feeling of having the weight of a nation on their shoulders, it will provide the nation with a sense of optimism once more.

So to that end, the friendly may be warranted after all, so long as Capello uses the match as an audition in order to develop a new and improved England. But what will the after effects be? The primary worry is that players will pick up injuries which will consequently mean they miss the start of the season.

For example, Tottenham Hotspur are scheduled to play Manchester City on 14 August, three days after the England match. If players like Tom Huddlestone and Michael Dawson are given the opportunity to play for England in the friendly, then how will the match against Manchester City play out? Mancini has a whole host of foreign imports to choose from, a great deal more than Spurs who have English players in key positions all over the pitch.

Make no mistake, City have a point to prove this season. Indeed, this website predicts them to finish in the top four. Yet after their most impressive term in years, Tottenham will be aiming for a similar league place to that of their opponents. For both teams, the first game of the season is undoubtedly one of the most crucial. To see the result influenced by what may be perceived meaningless match three days before is a worry not only of Harry Redknapp, but one shared by Premier League managers throughout the country.

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