The November international break begins after this weekend. This is the last one of the calendar year and the last one for the next four months as well. That gap perhaps explains some of the more questionable decisions in calling up various players, including Reece James (who’s suspended) and Christian Pulisic (who’s injured).
James was sent off in his last match for England (after the final whistle), and has subsequently been banned for two games by UEFA for the abusive language used towards the incompetent referee. But even though he’s ineligible to play in England’s Nations League matches against Belgium and Iceland, he’s apparently eligible to play in the friendly against Republic of Ireland next Thursday. England manager Gareth Southgate intends to use the 20-year-old in that game.
“Reece is playing at a very high level [and] against Denmark where he was arguably our best player. We wanted to keep him with us. He needs to learn from what happened at the end of that Denmark game which is not acceptable and has cost him the opportunity to play in some of the qualifiers for us. But we were very, very impressed with his club form and to be able to involve him in the game against Ireland is something we wanted to do.”
-Gareth Southgate; source: Football.London
Three other Chelsea players have joined James in England’s 29-man squad, including Ben Chilwell, Mason Mount, and Tammy Abraham.
Here it is… your #ThreeLions squad for our November internationals!— England (@England) November 5, 2020
They are hardly alone of course in being busy over the break. As usual, a good portion of the squad will have to travel all around the world — which remains a dubious proposition in our pandemic times, but FIFA’s gonna FIFA — and that includes Christian Pulisic, who’s been called by the US Men’s National Team for a couple friendlies despite being injured and Lampard warning about our continuing battle to keep him healthy and fit.
USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter says he’s aware of the concerns, but is also counting on his biggest star to lead a very young team (which also includes Chelsea loanee Matt Miazga).
“I’ve been in that spot myself, where you have an injury and you’re trying to shake it and trying to come back and there is a period where you come back and you are a little bit vulnerable. I know Chelsea is doing every single thing they can. I know he is doing every single thing he can and he is really focused and dedicated on staying fit. I believe he will get to this level of resistance where he stays fit.
“But building that up sometimes is challenging. That could be a phase he is in right now. I know they could use him. I know he’s a fantastic player and it is great to see what he’s been doing, but he’s in good hands with the club and they are doing everything they can to get him on the field.”
“He is one of the leaders on our team and we will rely on him to help guide this team. At such a young age he’s already played a ton of Champions League games, World Cup qualifiers, you name it he’s done it. He certainly is a leader on this team.”
-Gregg Berhalter; source: NBC Sports
Hilarity of the national team being concerned about Chelsea’s handling of the situation aside, hopefully Pulisic’s time with the national team will help in his recovery, in a similar case to when Hakim Ziyech used a Morocco match as part of his rehab — and similar to what Billy Gilmour’s doing with Scotland U21 this time around.
Ziyech’s now back fully fit, so he’s been called up by Morocco once again. Other Chelsea players with call-ups so far include Thiago Silva (Brazil), N’Golo Kanté, Kurt Zouma, and Olivier Giroud (France), Ethan Ampadu (Wales), Andreas Christensen (Denmark), Mateo Kovačić (Croatia). We should be expecting Jorginho, Emerson (both Italy) and Timo Werner and Antonio Rüdiger (both Germany) to get calls as well.