FIFA to order release of players as Liverpool prepare for 18 call-ups for October break

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FIFA are planning to order clubs to release players for upcoming World Cup qualifiers and UEFA Nations League games in October, despite ongoing concerns over COVID-19.

Liverpool will play their last game before the next international break on Sunday, with a trip to Aston Villa, before a two-week gap between that clash and the Merseyside derby.

The decision to push forward with international fixtures has been widely criticised due to the increased chance of a spread of COVID-19 with regular travel, and the Reds already saw Kostas Tsimikas reportedly test positive earlier this month.

It had been claimed that clubs would oppose call-ups for the October break, but according to the New York Times, FIFA will demand the release of players for World Cup qualifiers and the UEFA Nations League.

East Rutherford, NJ - Friday September 07, 2018: The men's national teams of the United States (USA) and Brazil (BRA) played an international friendly at MetLife Stadium. .

That means Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino should travel to South America for Brazil’s home qualifier against Bolivia (Oct 10) and then an away clash with Peru (Oct 14).

The Brazilian trio face one of the longest travel times of Liverpool’s prospective call-ups, but the club will be anticipating at least 18 first-team players to be included in their national squads.

Andy Robertson and Caoimhin Kelleher have already been called up by Scotland and the Republic of Ireland respectively, while Virgil van Dijk and Gini Wijnaldum are in the provisional Netherlands selection.

Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold will be in the England squad for meetings with Wales (Oct 8), Belgium (Oct 11) and Denmark (Oct 14), while Neco Williams should be in the Wales squad.

The New York Times report that FIFA will “accede to demands that players not be compelled to play in exhibition or friendly matches,” which could hypothetically see Liverpool refuse to release the trio for England vs. Wales, but that is highly unlikely.

Jordan Henderson is a doubt for England, but could be called up, though Thiago will not be in the Spain squad as he self-isolates following a positive test for COVID-19.

YEKATERINBURG, RUSSIA - JUNE 24, 2018: Senegal's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring in a 2018 FIFA World Cup Group H match against Japan at Yekaterinburg Arena. Sergei Bobylev/TASS

Tsimikas, Marko Grujic, Diogo Jota, Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi should also be included by their national teams, but Liverpool are at least partially boosted by the postponement of World Cup qualifiers in Africa and Asia.

That rules out a departure for Mohamed Salah, though Sadio Mane, Naby Keita and Takumi Minamino could be called up for friendlies.

Japan have scheduled friendlies against Cameroon and the Ivory Coast in the Netherlands, while Guinea will play Cape Verde Islands and Gambia and Senegal take on Morocco and Mauritania, which could therefore see the trio drafted in unless Liverpool refuse.

Joel Matip and James Milner will certainly not be called up, nor will the injured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

The order “could set the scene for a major confrontation between FIFA and the wealthy clubs that employ the world’s best players,” the New York Times continues.

“Clubs and leagues have long chafed about having little say over the release for national team action of players whom they spend millions of dollars to employ.”

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