The mixed blessings of an international break

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I am normally staunchly against international breaks. I find them exasperating as they deny fans another weekend of Premier League football.

Of course, I am aware of the necessity of international breaks in order to qualify for major tournaments; I just find them very frustrating when England plays San Marino, for example, and I know I am not alone in feeling that way.

However, there are some positives to the breaks. They provide a good chunk of time for players not called up to their international sides to gel with new team-mates back home.

For Aston Villa, with so many new players, this break is crucial.

While it has not been all doom and gloom at this early stage of the season, there is definite room for improvement and a lot of the early errors have come from many of the players not knowing each other. Seven of the new signings have played in the Premier League already and it is clear that they have not adjusted to their new surroundings yet, with the possible exception of Amavi, Gueye and Traoré. Therefore, this break is a good chance for players to train together, learn about each other and improve. This will at least be the case for Bunn, Richards, Crespo, Amavi, Traoré, Veretout, Lescott and Ilori. The hope will be that in the next eight days before the Leicester City game they can gel, challenge for first team spots and help the team progress.

The one issue is that in signing “better” players the likelihood is that clubs are buying fully-fledged internationals. Gestede, Gueye and Ayew are all established for their national teams and will be playing in Namibia, Rwanda and Benin respectively in the next few days. That is a lot of air miles. Add to that Guzan playing in the States and Sánchez in Colombia and there will be a lot of distance between much of the team.

With any luck, those players will benefit from getting more competitive minutes under their belts at the start of the season. Let’s hope their absence doesn’t delay the squad’s ability to gel too much.

Meanwhile, the players back home can knuckle down to some team building. The promise is definitely there and once the new players know each other a bit better I really think we can push on.

The Foxes are our next opponents in the Premier League. It will be a tough game so I hope the team Sherwood puts out will be reaping the benefits of the break.

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