England won’t play for two months before the 2022 World Cup – as it kicks off just eight days after the Premier League pauses meaning there will be NO warm-up friendlies beforehand
- There will be no time for warm-up games after the Premier League shuts down
- The players selected are set to join up with the England squad on November 14
- FA Chief executive Mark Bullingham wants Gareth Southgate to extend his deal
- Southgate is yet consider his future beyond the Qatar World Cup next year
England will begin the 2022 World Cup in Qatar having not played for two months due to the tournament being staged in the middle of the European season.
Under a draft schedule for the 2022-23 campaign seen by Sportsmail, the Three Lions will not play between two Nations League games in late September and the start of the World Cup on November 21. There will be no time for any warm-up games after the shutdown of the Premier League just eight days earlier. FIFA have only secured a seven-day mandatory release period before the tournament for players to join their national teams.
Assuming they qualify, the shortened window is likely to affect England’s preparations in particular because, with 20 clubs, the Premier League has more matches than most other leagues.
England will have not played for two months by the time the Qatar World Cup starts
Under the schedule agreed by the clubs and the FA, there will be a full round of Premier League games on the weekend of November 12 and 13 next year before the players join up with England on November 14, a week before the start of the tournament.
Gareth Southgate is therefore planning to take his players straight to Qatar to acclimatise, as temperatures in Doha often reach 86°F (30°C) even in winter, leaving no time for pre-tournament friendlies.
To compound matters, the October international break has been scrapped next year to allow the Champions League group stage to be completed before the World Cup begins, with match-day six scheduled for November 2 – six weeks earlier than usual. The Premier League will begin a week earlier than normal on August 6, 2022, before resuming on Boxing Day after a six-week break and finishing slightly later on May 28.
The FA Cup final will take place on June 3, with the Champions League final being held a week later in Munich. Such a congested schedule has led to concerns over player welfare.
Gareth Southgate will only have his players available a week before the tournament starts
The Championship will also take a break from November 14 but, with a 46-game season to fit in, consideration is being given to resuming at the end of the World Cup group stage rather than waiting until the end of the tournament.
League One and League Two will continue as normal, although the EFL season will also begin early on July 30.
A Premier League spokesman told Sportsmail on Tuesday that the 2022-23 schedule had yet to be confirmed.
Meanwhile, the FA will not rush Southgate into signing a new contract and are prepared to wait until next season before opening negotiations. Chief executive Mark Bullingham made it clear last month that the FA want to extend Southgate’s deal until the 2024 Euros in Germany, but in the wake of England’s loss to Italy on Sunday the 50-year-old raised concerns about outstaying his welcome.
FA chief executive Mark Bullingham (right) wants Southgate to remain in charge of England
Southgate has already been in the job for five years and – other than a short break before becoming Under 21 boss – has worked for the FA since 2011, when he was appointed director of elite development.
The former Middlesbrough manager has made little secret of his belief that he has unfinished business at club level, and had the Euros not been delayed by 12 months due to the pandemic he may have walked away after the tournament that was planned for last summer.
With just 16 months to go until the World Cup finals in Qatar, however, Southgate is committed to staying on to manage England in that tournament – but has yet to consider his future beyond 2022. Southgate was offered a new contract by the FA after the 2018 World Cup, but did not sign it until the following October so Bullingham is hopeful that his waiting tactics will pay off.