International breaks used to be part and parcel of life back in the days where Wanderers rubbed shoulders with the Premier League’s elite.
Half the first team squad would scatter to the four corners of the globe, leaving a handful behind on the training ground to fulfil basic duties until their return.
For the coaching staff, there was usually an opportunity to jet off to watch an international target playing live, especially if he happened to be playing somewhere nice and warm.
Since dropping down to League One level in 2019, however, they had become less of a concern… At least until now.
Josh Sheehan got a late call-up to the Wales squad after being on standby in August, missing a game against Burton Albion just 48 hours later, in what was the first taste of international confusion.
There had been an element of uncertainty about October’s visit to Sheffield Wednesday, with Owls officials expecting four call-ups but eventually getting just one. The game was one of only four to the played that weekend, at a time when Covid was also still playing havoc with the availability of players.
And the same could be said of Bolton’s home game against Portsmouth, which was initially due to be played on March 26. For weeks, folk at the UniBol and Fratton Park surmised there would be an issue, but it was not until 10 days before the actual event that the match was finally switched to April 5.
Logistically, a midweek trip to Bolton for Pompey fans is complicated enough, but more so on a Tuesday night.
Factor in that the club also plays eight games in the final 26 days of the season – and that after a break of 16 days without a game, and there is a strong case to be made for better planning at this level of football.
Clubs in the Premier League and Championship have scheduled breaks for international football, so should that luxury also be extended to teams in League One and Two?
The ‘free weekend’ could still be used to reschedule certain fixtures, but it would surely avoid the hassle and inconvenience faced by the Pompey supporters, and we dare say, many Bolton fans who are unable to attend midweek games as they can those planned at the weekend.
Football has shown in the past couple of seasons of pandemic that the schedule can be flexible and clubs like Wanderers, Portsmouth, Sheffield Wednesday and the like would surely welcome the possibility of some forward planning.
Oxford United boss Karl Robinson has already voiced his support on an international break at League One.
“I don’t see why we can’t say an international break is a complete break in League One and even League Two,” he said earlier this season.
“We’ve learnt an awful lot about what players can and can’t do and we’ve seen how we can condense a Football League season into less than what we’ll have this year.
“It just doesn’t seem to make a great deal of sense.
“The Championship cope wonderfully well with it, I can’t foresee why we couldn’t.
“We don’t have to do every single one, but at least you know, rather than having to plan and things being called off.
“We’ve seen how we reduced the season by two months last season.
“We got through it okay, so all you’re doing is putting one or two more midweek games in and we wouldn’t have an issue with that.”
Wanderers are expecting to hear today that Jon Dadi Bodvarsson has been called up by Iceland for their friendless against Finland and Spain.
The striker has 62 caps to his name and has played at two major tournaments with his country.
James Trafford is also in line for an England call-up at either Under-20s or Under-21s level, with the Young Lions squads announced on Friday morning.
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