Jose Mourinho has called on England boss Gareth Southgate to name the managers pressurising their players to pull out of international duty – as he fully expects Raheem Sterling to start against Tottenham on Saturday.
Southgate hinted several times during the recent international break that some of his players faced pressure from their clubs to withdraw from his squad.
The truncated season caused by the coronavirus pandemic means the workload for footballers will increase, especially with the European Championship finals at the end of the campaign.
Tottenham travel to Manchester City on Saturday and, while Sterling withdrew from the squad with an injury niggle which Southgate would not go into detail on, Spurs striker Harry Kane played all but 14 minutes of the two Nations League fixtures.
‘I am OK with that,’ Tottenham head coach Mourinho replied when asked about England skipper Kane playing 76 minutes in the game against Iceland. ‘A national team match should never be a dead rubber. The only thing for me, the only problem for me, is should be the same for everybody, not just for some.
‘I don’t want to spend much time on the national team stuff – Gareth Southgate, I read, supposedly told that some football club managers put pressure on their players not to play for the national team.
‘And because of that he feels the need sometimes to call club managers to try and cool down the emotions and cool down difficult situations for him.
‘I would like him to say who. I would like him to say which are the coaches who put pressure on the players not to go? And I would like him to say which are the coaches that he calls and speaks on the phone with them.’
While Mourinho concedes Southgate is in his right to call up any player, he hinted that Sterling missing the games was no coincidence as City boss Pep Guardiola confirmed the forward returned to training on the eve of the Spurs clash.
‘He has the right, he has the power to call the players he wants,’ added Mourinho. He wants to win matches, especially after a defeat, the next match even being a dead rubber is an important match. I sympathise with that. And of course we all know Sterling will play tomorrow.
‘He needed a couple of weeks to recover and Raheem is going to play tomorrow. These are the little details I think Gareth should explain to us all.
‘Apart from that, I totally support him in the fact that in the national team, in a country like England, the Three Lions on the shirt is always to be respected and he plays with the players he wants to play.’