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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 May, 2003, 12:56 GMT 13:56 UK
Eriksson criticises fixture list
England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson
Eriksson says the national team suffers from tired players

England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has blamed Premiership clubs' failure to reach the latter stages of the Champions League on the demands placed on players in England.

Manchester United failed to progress past the last eight in the Champions League for the third time in four season, while Arsenal and Newcastle failed to negotiate the group stages.

The problem, says Eriksson, is that English teams play more games than their European counterparts, who also have the benefit of a mid-season break.

Eriksson believes the packed Premiership fixture schedule also hampers the national team's attempts to qualify for major tournaments.

"Manchester United didn't win the Champions League and Arsenal didn't reach the semi-finals but the problem is not the quality of the English teams," Eriksson told BBC One's Football Focus.

"The problem in the Champions League is that you are playing more football in this country than in other countries.

"We don't have a winter break. Players, if they play for the national team, are getting tired in March or April when you decide things."

Several Premiership managers recently held meetings with Eriksson to attempt to resolve the recurring club-versus-country debate and the Swede is confident progress has been made, with more talks planned.

England and Everton star Wayne Rooney
Rooney has impressed during his brief England career

He said: "When we are talking about friendly games in March or April the club managers defend their interests and they should do - it's what they are paid to do. I understand that.

"We had meetings with the managers and that was very good and I think we're going to go on with that every year because it's very good sitting round a table and discussing the problems.

"I think I have good relationships with all club managers."

However, the Swede said he had not yet decided whether he will pick Everton striker Wayne Rooney for this month's friendly in South Africa.

"Before I pick the squad I will talk to David Moyes once again," he said.

"Anyhow, going to South Africa or not, Wayne Rooney will have six or seven days rest as will all the players. He will have a rest even if he comes."

England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson
"I think I have a good relationship with all the managers"

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