After England’s Nations League defeat, Harry Kane appears devastated (Nick Potts/PA) (PA Wire)
According to a report by the PA news agency, player fatigue is expected to be a major role in England’s dismal form.
The Three Lions are in the midst of their longest winless streak since 2014 and their worst goal-scoring streak since 2007. The World Cup is just over five months away in Qatar.
In June, England lost all four of their Nations League matches, with draws against Germany and Italy sandwiched between home and away defeats to Hungary.
Harry Kane was the only player to score in all four games, thanks to a late penalty in Munich.
PA takes a look at how many minutes Gareth Southgate’s key players have played this season.
Two-thirds of the squad had completed at least one season.
(Image courtesy of PA)
Before joining England, 18 of Southgate’s 27-man team had collected at least 3,420 minutes of playing time in the 2021-22 season — the equivalent of a full 38-game season.
Several of Southgate’s most used players in the last four games have already accumulated the most minutes for club and country.
Declan Rice of West Ham had spent the most time on the pitch this season, with 4,807 minutes, closely followed by Tottenham’s Kane (4,777).
Rice and Kane were practically constant for their respective clubs this season, as West Ham reached the Europa League semi-finals with a limited squad and Spurs competed for Champions League qualifying after reaching the Carabao Cup semi-finals.
Despite this, Kane played in all four England games, starting three of them, including the 4-0 thumping on Tuesday. Rice had three starts as well, albeit he sat out the humiliating loss to Hungary.
In 2021-22, England’s Harry Kane and Declan Rice played the most minutes. (PA/Nick Potts) (PA Wire)
England’s lack of goals could be linked to Kane’s workload, plus the fact that his replacement for the Italy game – Tammy Abraham – had racked up plenty of minutes for Roma across the season.
Apart from Rice and Kane, Mason Mount, Harry Maguire and Kyle Walker were the only players picked by Southgate to start three out of the four games.
The story goes on.
While Maguire and Walker had some recent respite at club level, Mount had played 4,158 minutes already in 2021-22, spread across 59 games.
For Euro 2020, fatigue will be less of a factor.
At the end of the 2020-21 season, England reached the final of Euro 2020 (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Archive)
Before last summer’s Euro 2020, Southgate’s main players had played fewer minutes than they had this season.
Kane, for example, had just over 4,000 minutes in his legs ahead of joining up with England in June 2021, the equivalent of eight games fewer than this time round.
Rice has logged an additional 18 minutes of playing time this season after logging only 3,180 minutes in 2020-21.
Other mainstays from last summer’s run to the Euro 2020 final, such as Raheem Sterling, John Stones, Kalvin Phillips and Maguire, have struggled to nail down a regular spot for their club sides this term, either due to injury or competition for places.
In their cases, it could be that a lack of regular football has outweighed the benefits of playing fewer minutes this year compared with last.