London – England manager Roy Hodgson has said there is nothing he can do to stop Manchester City taking members of his World Cup squad on a post-season tour of the United Arab Emirates.
Hodgson has written to every Premier League club asking them to keep their England players free from May 12-19, so they can have a full week off after the end of the domestic season and ahead of the start of his squad's final preparations for the World Cup in Brazil, which starts in June.
But it now appears the likes of City and England goalkeeper Joe Hart, together with midfielder James Milner, will travel to the UAE for an “exhibition match” between City and Al Ain four days after the club's final game of the campaign.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini has informed Hodgson he will not select the England duo for the match but the England boss would rather they did not make the 16-hour round trip at all.
“I sent out a letter on FA paper to the clubs, giving them our programme and asking them to be aware that my intention was that, from the last game of the season, the players should be totally free until we meet up Ä to get a break from football,” Hodgson said Thursday.
“That's what we would like. But the bottom line is that we have no control over it.
“I've done what I can do. I'm an England manager and I've said to the clubs that, as England manager, I think it best that they have a week away from football at the end of the season, to relax and clear their minds so that from May 19 they can settle down and put a lot of thought and a lot of focus and physicality into trying to win the World Cup.
“But if the clubs say 'we're not interested in that, we want to do something else', then there's nothing I can do about it.”
City insist the trip to the country of club owner Sheikh Mansour will be akin to a holiday for their players.
Meanwhile Premier League leaders Liverpool have also scheduled a post-season game, against Irish side Shamrock Rovers at Dublin's Lansdowne Road on May 14, but they have said none of their England players will take part.
Hodgson added he hoped Dr Steve Peters, the sports psychiatrist who counts Liverpool and world snooker champion Ronnie O'Sullivan among his clients and will be joining England's staff in Brazil, would help his side cope with the pressure of a major tournament.
“My worst fear would be that the pressure gets on top of the players and that we aren't going to be able to get close to what I know this team could possibly produce,” Hodgson said.
“That's why people like Steve Peters are coming with us, not because I think he is going to go round and sort all these things out in people's minds – that would be ludicrous – but at least him being there he might see some of the tensions we don't see because we are so close to it.” – Sapa-AFP