JOHN CROSS COLUMN: The 2022 international schedule plus West Ham opens up for legends, how Rafa Benitez has weaved his magic on Demarai Gray and latest on Phil Foden
Video LoadingVideo UnavailableClick to playTap to playThe video will auto-play soon8CancelPlay nowSouthgate bemoans ‘really poor’ England display against HungaryByJohn CrossChief Football Writer
- 17:09, 14 Oct 2021
The grand FIFA plan has been for a major international tournament every summer.
And it has almost slipped under the radar that England will have four Nations League games next June in what will feel like a mini end-of-season tournament.
The Premier League season ends on May 22, is likely to restart on August 6 and that means an incredibly busy summer for top international stars ahead of the World Cup which runs from November 21 to December 18.
England will be in pot three for the Nations League having finished third last time round, the draw is on December 16 and they should end up playing four games in June, two in September with the finals due to be played in June 2023.
If England win their World Cup qualifying Group and avoid the play-offs, they will have two free international dates in March with Gareth Southgate planning to play two friendlies which will almost certainly be at Wembley.
England's players are in for a busy 2022
It means incredibly busy summers ahead but worth remembering Chelsea ’s Mason Mount did say this week that he would relish the opportunity to play big games every year.
Real Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois fired a broadside at UEFA for organising a third place play-off in this year’s Nations League finals.
However, they remain in place at the behest of national associations who actually want the second game rather than send the players back early.
West Ham open the door to club legends
David Moyes is embracing West Ham ’s wonderful history by throwing the doors open to club legends.
Former Hammer Joe Cole has been invited to the training ground, Rob Green has been there and the likes of Sir Trevor Brooking with his history and legacy will be just as welcome.
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West Ham boss Moyes is doing such a good job at the club and one of his greatest qualities is to buy into and embrace a club’s history and previous success as a platform for the future.
Moyes has changed the mood at the club and welcoming back Hammers legends is another smart move which will go down well with fans.
Rafa Benitez's magic touch with Demarai Gray
Rafa Benitez has always been clever with his man management.
But the re-emergence of Demarai Gray at Everton under Benitez is particularly eye-catching. Toffees boss Benitez has been a long term admirer, has always kept close tabs, stayed in touch and so when he became available at a bargain price, there was only one winner.
Demarai Gray has been a revelation at Everton
Gray’s success at Goodison Park will therefore come as no surprise to Benitez.
Latest plans for red-list countries' internationals
The uneasy truce over release for international players in red list countries has helped stars fly to South America and beyond in this break.
But one of the conditions to players being able to play and train during their ten day quarantine was they were expected to be fully vaccinated. So it might be revealing and somewhat uncomfortable if some players suddenly have a prolonged absence.
New Arsene Wenger film latest from great Gabriel Clarke
The new Arsene Wenger film “Invincible” is a superb watch and is due to be released next month.
It has been made by Noah Media and co-directed by Gabriel Clarke who is responsible for some of the best sporting films and documentaries of recent times.
Clough, Finding Jack Charlton, Bobby Robson: More than a Manager as well as Fight of Their Lives which was about Nigel Benn and Gerald McClellan. His documentaries are the hallmark of greatness.
Latest on Phil Foden's new Man City deal
Phil Foden is set to sign a mega six year deal with Manchester City and is already represented by highly-respected advisor Owen Brown.
England star Foden is one of English football’s crown jewels and his growing popularity and marketability off the pitch is perhaps highlighted by Unique Sports Management are now looking after his commercial interests.
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