Richard Hercock: Fatigue debate so tiresome and overshadows great displays

Raheem Sterling during a training session at the St Jakob-Park Stadium, Basel.

Raheem Sterling during a training session at the St Jakob-Park Stadium, Basel.

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So here we are, turning our minds back to Premier League action after a fortnight of international football.

For those of you who decided to escape England and jet off for a mid-season holiday in the sunshine, let us recap what you missed.

Not too much on the pitch, but one giant row over how long top footballers need to recover after a game.

You would not believe how many scientists have been canvassed to give their views.

It all stems from Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling admitting to his international coach, Roy Hodgson, that he was feeling jaded in between England’s two Euro 2016 qualifiers.

Credit to the player for being bold enough to stand up and admit that. But you would think he had refused to play, set fire to the St George’s flag and stamped all over it, such has been the over-reaction.

Players, former players, coaches, managers and even Raymond Verheijen, the former assistant coach of that powerhouse of European football Wales, have added their two-penneth.

Verheijen labelled Hodgson a ‘dinosaur’ after he questioned Liverpool’s fitness regime, which is based on a two-day recovery system for the likes of Sterling and Daniel Sturridge.

For me, it’s all been blown out of all proportion and quite frankly, who cares? It’s a fair bet Sterling will be lining up in a Liverpool shirt tomorrow afternoon at QPR.

What it has overshadowed are some fantastic performances from the Home Nations in the Euro qualifiers.

Wales travel to Belgium next month on top of Group B after their 2-1 win over Cyprus, Scotland drew 2-2 in Poland and next face a rejuvenated Republic of Ireland who held hosts Germany to a 1-1 draw, thanks to John O’Shea’s late equaliser.

But special credit has to go to Northern Ireland, who beat former European champions Greece 2-0 on Tuesday to extend their 100 per cent record to three matches which leaves them top of Group F.

It was interesting to hear from their manager Michael O’Neill who believes the expansion of the European Championship has helped the smaller nations.

The decision to increase the number of participants from 16 to 24 at the 2016 tournament has been divisive, with the continent’s heavy-hitters virtually guaranteed to qualify even if they experience the occasional bump in the road.

But with third place now good enough for at least a play-off, the prospects of less distinguished nations have been greatly improved. It would be nice to see a few Home Nations in the finals in 2016.

Back to the Premier League, and it seems an eternity since we last had any action.

Hull City have a trip to Arsenal, and any excuse just to visit the Emirates has to be taken.

Steve Bruce’s side picked up a much-needed win a fortnight ago against Crystal Palace and anything from today’s trip to north London would be a bonus.

Manchester City versus Tottenham is probably the pick of the rest, a 12.45 kick-off today meaning I might sneak a few minutes’ viewing before my assignment at Hillsborough.

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