Stop overloading world's best footballers, Gareth Southgate tells authorities

As England's 2022-23 season finally ended, manager Gareth Southgate urged football's governing bodies to work together to reduce the load on elite players.

The Three Lions' 7-0 Euro 2024 qualifying win over North Macedonia came 325 days after the Community Shield, in a season with a World Cup in the middle.

Scotland's campaign ended on Tuesday, the night before a European Under-21 Championship featuring six Leeds United players (Crysencio Summerville, Charlie Cresswell, Illan Meslier, Willy Gnonto, Leo Fuhr Hjelde and Kristoffer Klaesson) begins.

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Next week a host of Football League clubs, including Leeds, begin pre-season training.

"On Sunday I think it was Luka Modric's 65th game (it was his 70th) in nine different competitions – Spanish Super Cup, European Super Cup, World Club Cup, Champions League, La Liga, Copa del Rey, European Championship qualifiers, World Cup and Nations League – and a friendly against Saudi Arabia before the World Cup! He's 37," said Southgate. "How can a player play in nine competitions in one year?

"Everybody has to be involved otherwise somebody else slots another competition in."

Harry Kane and Declan Rice each played 64 times last season.

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From next year the Champions League will have eight group games in 10 weeks. The 2025 Club World Cup expands to 32 teams and the next World Cup 48.

CONCERNS: England manager Gareth SouthgateCONCERNS: England manager Gareth Southgate
CONCERNS: England manager Gareth Southgate

Southgate is keen to protect international football and Bukayo Saka's first hat-trick despite an Achilles niggle pushed his case.