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English Premiership

Wenger blast international friendlies

LONDON, England, March 2 – Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger on Friday blasted the international friendlies schedule after claiming Belgium made injured defender Thomas Vermaelen play a full midweek match against Greece despite his recent fitness woes.

Wenger said the Gunners, in action at Liverpool Saturday as they chase down a Champions League qualifying slot, are considering lodging an official complaint against the Belgian Football Association over the issue.

Vermaelen’s case is not the only one vexing Wenger with Arsenal skipper Robin van Persie having turned out for Holland against England at Wembley despite battling a groin problem.

Referring to centre-half Vermaelen, Wenger said: “It looks like Belgium has made a decision which I still do not understand and we will look to see if we can put a complaint in.

“Firstly they forced the player to travel, then they forced him to play 90 minutes after being injured and had a centre-back on the bench who did not play at all, in a friendly game knowing they do not even go to the European Championship. For me, that is difficult to understand.

“The friendlies are becoming more and more difficult to accept for everybody.

Referring to Van Persie, Wenger went on: “The Holland manager (Bert van Marwijk) hasn’t spoken to me, but he knew Robin was injured because he said despite his groin problem, he will play him, it is the same with the Belgium manager (Georges Leekens).

“We are the only team in the world who had that schedule so it is very difficult to understand that our players had to go injured to Greece and play 90 minutes for Belgium. That’s frankly not defendable.

“It is disrespectful to the players as well as me.”

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