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Mikel Arteta has hit out at the upcoming international break,labelling the scheduling as ‘really dangerous’.
The Arsenal boss is set to lose several players after Sunday’s game at West Ham, with nations such as Englnad squeezing in three World Cup qualifiersin just six days.
It’s a situation Arteta believes is far from acceptable, although he admits that there is little Arsenal or other clubs can do apart from hope their players return unscathed.
When asked about the upcoming international break and the fact some nations will play three games in six days, the Arsenal boss said: “I think it’s a bit too much in a normal year, so this year I think it becomes something really dangerous with the amount of minutes these boys have played in such a short time with no preparation.
“I don’t think it’s right but we’re not going to change it. The decisions have been made and the games are going to be played, so it’s just about how we protect our players in the best possible way.
“I always want to trust [the international federations].
“We will communicate with them and tell them the state of our players and try to maintain an open discussion to try to manage the load the best possible way and don’t change too much the things they are used to doing.”
Arteta is unsure whether Bukayo Saka will be able to link up with the England squad for their qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland next week.
The teenager has been suffering with a hamstring problem and Arsenal have games against Olympiacos and West Ham before players are due to link up with their national teams.
"I don’t know," said Arteta, when asked about Sakas chances of being available for England. "We have two games to play before then and if he participates in them then there is always a risk.
"So ask me that question after West Ham."
Arsenal are restricting players from taking part in games that are due to be held in countries on the UK’s Covid-19 red list.
That is because anyone travelling to those countries would then have to follow the strict quarantine roles that have been put in place when they return.
So Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Thomas Partey are only expected to play one match each for Gabon and Ghana respectively during the international break.
Aubameyang will be able to feature when Gabon host Congo on March 25, but will have to miss the match in Angola on March 29.
Partey meanwhile will not be able to play in Ghana’s game in South Africa on March 25, but will be able to feature when Ghana welcome Sao Tome and Principe three days later.
Arteta said: “The ones that are going to be in red zone countries, they won’t be able to play those fixtures, the rest we have to allow them to go if they are fit and we will stick to the protocols and all the guidance we have to try to allow our players to go when they are safe.
“Some might be able to play one game and not the next game so it’s a lot still to figure out. The doctor is in constant communication with the Premier League and the federations but it’s not too simple.”