Northern Ireland’s Stuart Dallas has questioned the timing of international football’s return due to its close proximity to the new Premier League season.
NI begin their Nations League campaign with a trip to Romania on Friday before hosting Norway in Belfast three days later.
Dallas, who is expected to feature in Leeds United’s Premier League opener at Liverpool on 12 September, says the timing is “disrupting everything”.
“I just can’t help but feel these games shouldn’t be played,” Dallas told Radio Ulster’s Sportsound.
“I don’t know if that’s controversial or not, but I think it’s disrupting everything.”
Dallas, who helped Leeds gain promotion back to the Premier League for the first time since 2004, faces an intense schedule of fixtures at club level as well as up to eight international games between now and 18 November should Northern Ireland reach the Euro 2021 play-off final.
After the Romania-Norway double header, Ian Baraclough’s NI travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina for their Euro 2021 play-off semi-final on 8 October, host Austria in the Nations League on 11 October and travel to Norway three days later.
Their final two Nations League games are away to Austria and at home to Romania on 15 and 18 November with a potential play-off final against the Republic of Ireland or Slovakia on 12 November.
Hectic schedule is ‘ridiculous’
“It’s ridiculous [that the 2020-21 Premier League season is starting less than a week after the international break],” added Dallas.
“The Champions League has just finished last week and now some of those players have to go straight into their international teams.
“Especially with what’s going on throughout the world with travel restrictions and all the rules with quarantine.
“Obviously the risk of the virus is high. For me, it’s silly, it shouldn’t be played.
“For the English leagues, it’s coming at the most ridiculous time. We have players who might not return until Wednesday or Thursday, that’s two days before Liverpool – it’s madness that they have to do this.”
Josh Magennis, who is part of the Northern Ireland squad with Dallas for the upcoming games with Romania and Norway, highlighted how the decision to stage the matches was taken away from the players.
“The entertainment value is on us,” said the Hull City forward.
“But the responsibility of whether or not we should go ahead or not isn’t down to us, it’s being made higher up in the boardrooms.
“Back at Hull, my bubble is people I know, like lads at the club who are tested twice a week, so I know they’re fine.
“The chance of me shopping is nil because I just get my dinner from the canteen at the club and bring it back.
“But when we go to these hotels, like in Romania, the people who are serving us dinner, or the bus drivers we have out there, or the concierges, are they in a bubble?
“Or are we in a bubble and they’re able to go home and go outside and then come and serve us dinner? It’s just confusing and nobody really knows. We’re going to be in a bubble but to what extent?”
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