Paddy McNair and Stuart Dallas playing three Northern Ireland matches in a week is wrong says Middlesbrough's Neil Warnock
In keeping with most European countries, Northern Ireland played three internationals in the space of seven days. Whereas most played one friendly, all three of theirs were competitive thanks to a European Championship qualifying play-off which went to extra-time.
McNair and Dallas played every minute of the Nations League games against Austria and Romania, even though the latter was a dead rubber due to his country's relegation. Having forced the own goal which took the play-off against Slovakia into extra-time, McNair was substituted 14 minutes into it, but Leeds's utility player was on the field for the entirity.
Warnock thinks they were over-used.
“Paddy McNair has played three of the toughest games you could wish for and he has played almost every minute,” he told his club's official website.
“I don’t understand how him and Stuart Dallas can do that. There’s something wrong when that happens. You’ve also got to think of the players.
“We helped him up to the first game, but after that...I can’t accept that when there’s nothing else to play for.”
McNair and Dallas are ever-presents in league football this season. The Middlesbrough man has played every minute of his club's 11 Championship matches, but Dallas was substituted 81 minutes into Leeds's Premier League defeat at home to Leicester City.
Hull City's Josh Magennis played part but not all of all three games.
Dallas's club-mate Robin Koch played all 270 minutes minutes for Germany, whilst Sheffield United's Oli McBurnie was involved in all three Scotland matches, but only started the Nations League game in Slovakia.
Leeds's Premier League visitors on Sunday, Arsenal, saw Kieran Tierney play all 270 minutes for Scotland during the break and Sead Kolasinac and Mohamed Elneny tested positive for coronavirus on international duty.
Middlesbrough play Norwich City in the Championship on Saturday. Their Finnish striker Teemu Pukki was another who played in all three matches without completing the 90 minutes in any. He scored in the Nations League games in Bulgaria and Wales.
On Wednesday the Football League voted to increase the number of permitted substitutes to five to ease the workload on players, but the Premier League are resisting, with the majority of clubs, including Sheffield United, concerned it will give too big an advantage to the larger squads.
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