Premier League clubs are reportedly expressing concerns over the safety of their England players as they return from the international break after playing on what has been described as a “dangerous” pitch.
The Three Lions are set to face North Macedonia in their final Euro 2024 qualifier at the Tose Proeski Arena, where the recently relaid pitch is raising eyebrows among football officials.
The Tose Proeski Arena’s pitch was resurfaced just six weeks ago after the previous turf was banned by UEFA. Despite the recent renovations, there are growing worries about the pitch’s readiness and safety.
Premier League bosses are said to be anxiously monitoring tonight’s match, fearing that the new surface may not be adequately prepared.
According to reports, the Telegraph has described the grass as “rock-solid,” and there are alleged warnings to teams about specific areas of the turf where they should avoid warming up.
This heightened caution reflects the uncertainty surrounding the pitch’s condition, raising concerns that it may pose a risk to players’ well-being.
The pitch where Italy will take on North Macedonia later today doesn't look goodpic.twitter.com/h0OmAFHlsK— Get Italian Football News (@_GIFN) September 9, 2023
England manager Gareth Southgate acknowledged the recent relaying of the pitch, expressing his reservations about its readiness.
He emphasized the importance of securing qualification well in advance, as playing on unfamiliar and potentially hazardous surfaces can be a significant challenge, particularly when away from home.
The worries about the Tose Proeski Arena pitch are not unfounded, as similar concerns were raised following the Italy vs. North Macedonia match in September.
The game, which ended in a 1-1 draw, saw players from both teams criticizing the playing surface. Italian striker Ciro Immobile commented that playing on such a pitch could be dangerous, making an already tough game even more challenging.
North Macedonian player Eljif Elmas also expressed dissatisfaction, describing the pitch as “frankly shameful.” He issued an apology to all Italians and Europeans, highlighting the difficulty of playing football on a subpar surface.
These previous incidents contribute to the current apprehension among Premier League clubs and England’s coaching staff.
The concerns surrounding the pitch have already had consequences for England’s squad, with several players withdrawing before the match against Malta on Friday.
Jarrod Bowen cited a knee issue, while Kieran Trippier withdrew for personal reasons. Additionally, Jude Bellingham, Levi Colwill, James Maddison, Lewis Dunk, and Callum Wilson had all pulled out of the squad earlier, raising questions about the potential influence of pitch conditions on player availability.
As England faces North Macedonia in their final Euro 2024 qualifier, the condition of the Tose Proeski Arena pitch remains a cause for concern among Premier League clubs.
The recent relaying of the turf, coupled with past criticisms from players involved in previous matches at the venue, has heightened apprehension about the safety and playability of the surface.
Premier League bosses and England’s coaching staff will undoubtedly be closely monitoring the situation, hoping that their players return unscathed from what appears to be a challenging and potentially perilous environment.