LONDON - Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp fears the gruelling demands of international football are putting players at such risk that clubs will have to "collect their bones" during the coming season.
Klopp is preparing for the start of the new Premier League campaign without a number of Liverpool stars who are on holiday following international duty at the World Cup. But there is little time for players who featured in Russia to rest and then get back to peak fitness because the Premier League kicks off on 10 August. Adding to the problem is the presence of UEFA's new Nations League, which replaces the usual rounds of international friendlies and begins on 6 September.
Klopp feels Liverpool, and every other club with a host of internationals, are in danger of paying a heavy price for the demands placed on their stars, with injuries certain to be caused by the lack of quality recovery time. "I don't want to get too football political but if they don't stop with these games - they are now making it the Nations Cup to make it more important - then all these players who played at the World Cup have to go there again," Klopp said.
"We had four players in the (World Cup) semis, which is OK, we can deal with that. Tottenham had nine players in the semis. I have no clue how they will do it. That's a big challenge. It's a really tough thing to deal with and in the future we have to change it. They play the World Cup, then the Nations Cup, next summer is the final of the Nations Cup, which is really crazy. Everything is now so important in football and we have to collect their bones afterwards, more or less."
Klopp expects to be without Croatia defender Dejan Lovren, who made the World Cup final, and England midfielder Jordan Henderson, who played in the semi-finals in Russia, for Liverpool's opening game of the season against West Ham. "It was a hard fight to convince him that he needed a holiday," he said.
"I knew it would happen. On the phone I said 'crazy'. Jordan needs a holiday so that means August 5 he will be back. Dejan had a party in Croatia and played a day later, so he will be back on August 6. That would mean five days training after three weeks' holiday. I hope we are in a situation where we don't need to think about using these two."
Trent Alexander-Arnold could be involved, though, with the 19-year-old full-back appearing in only one of England's games. "With Trent I have a special agreement. He wanted to be in earlier as well. As he's very young I said 'OK, have two weeks' holiday and then we'll speak and see'," Klopp said. "If you asked Trent he would be good to join us in Evian (for their training camp). But I'm not sure I will do that. I want to have them desperately but the season is really long."AFP