Raphinha has my sympathy for being caught between Leeds United, Brazil and FIFA - Sue Smith

When I was playing if you asked me to choose between club and country, I would always try to play for both.

I remember once jumping in a car with Sammy Britton, still in my England kit, to catch a flight home straight after a game. Getting a shower had to wait until we got to the airport!

The next day, when the rest of my team-mates were flying home, we were playing for Leeds United – not that well in my case and feeling pretty tired, but my club had asked me to play and I did not want to let them down, just like I did not want to let my country down.

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Looking back as an older ex-player, maybe I might take a different approach now.

Raphinha, Leeds United played could be banned by FIFA (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

The surgeon who operated on the cruciate knee injury which effectively ended my international career thought making my Doncaster Rovers Belles debut so soon after an international tournament was a factor in it.

Playing for my country was the pinnacle in my eyes but maybe in the men’s game and the modern women’s game too as it becomes more professional and lucrative, that is no longer the case.

Even when I was a regular for club and country, there was always that nagging feeling: what if I missed a match and someone came in and had a brilliant game in my place? I would always have doubts about that, but never about fatigue.

I really felt for Leeds winger Raphinha, who was due to make his Brazil debut in this international break but was told not to travel because the country is on the Government’s red list, meaning he would have to quarantine for 10 days when he got back. The Premier League and EFL clubs decided not to release players in that position even though it is against FIFA rules.

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino could also miss the game with Leeds United (Picture: PA)

Now Brazil are pushing to have Raphinha, Alisson, Firmino and Fabinho banned from next Sunday’s Leeds v Liverpool game.

Tomorrow’s match is a World Cup qualifier in Argentina (also on the red list) – a massive game for any Brazilian.

Raphinha would be desperate to play and although he is young enough and certainly good enough for the chance to come around again, you just never know what might happen. Perhaps it might be different for some players with 80 caps, but even when I reached that stage of my career I would never have wanted to miss a game like that – or any international.

I really would like to tell you the solution to this problem but I just do not think there is one.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson could miss Leeds game (Picture: PA)

I can see why FIFA are trying to protect international football, and I can see why club managers want to keep hold of their best players. You hear all sorts of rumours about players being put under pressure by clubs not to go on international duty and they must be so frustrated when their stars come back injured.

Some of them will not be happy their players are due to play three internationals in a week but I think the recovery time between games is enough for those guys, most of whom have similar schedules when the Champions League gets going. And there is a pandemic on – we have all had to do things different and make sacrifices.

It helps, though, when international managers have a good relationship with the clubs and show a bit of commonsense. The frustration for Brazil is that Argentina’s top players have travelled, even if their clubs do not want them to.

Flying first-class as these players do is certainly a lot better than being in economy but the travel and passing through different time zones still means you are not recovering as well as some of the players you will be facing in your next club game.

Sometimes when I was going from international matches straight into club football and back again I would be a little bit jealous of my team-mates who were getting a break but it was only ever a fleeting thought because not getting a rest meant wearing the Three Lions instead.

Modern players – even female ones – are probably under more pressure than I was because of the wages they are getting from their clubs now.

There has been pressure from FIFA on the Government to relax the quarantine rules for the players coming back but we are talking about risking people’s lives here, you cannot do that.

It is a really difficult problem with unlucky players like Raphinha stuck in the middle.