Bristol City will be understrength when they face Exeter City in their first competitive game of the season.
The Robins will lose the services of at least four players who have all been called up to represent their respective countries in the opening games of their UEFA Nations League campaigns. They will therefore miss the first round of the Carabao Cup.
The price of success? Regardless of the number of call-ups, the game will still go ahead as planned and a weakened Robins squad will face the Grecians at Ashton Gate in the contest set for a 2pm kick-off on Saturday 5 September.
Due to fixture congestion, the match, the first round of the League Cup, has had to take place before the first round of the new Championship season, and while it’s not great preparation for any team to have the playing squad disrupted before the first league fixture, it is the same for everyone.
The call-ups so far include:
- Joe Morrell (Wales) – playing Finland on 3 September before Bulgaria on 6 September
- Tomas Kalas (Czech Republic) – facing Slovakia on 4 September before Scotland on 7 September
- Adam Nagy (Hungary) – takes on Turkey (3 September) and then Russia (6 September)
- Callum O’Dowda (Rep of Ireland) – facing Bulgaria (3 September), before they host Finland (6 September)
None of the players playing in the forthcoming international games will have to quarantine due to governmental regulation regarding the return to action of elite sports.
Famara Diedhiou was a case apart recently when the Senegal striker went back to his home country during his time off at the end of last season and then had to stay at home rather than take part in regular training. (With Diedhiou even appearing on two TV programmes during his time away to discuss his career to date and life at Bristol City – adding that he enjoys life at the Robins.)
Senegal is not on the Government’s list of travel corridors, meaning anyone flying back into the UK from the west African country has to self-isolate for a period of 14 days.
Players involved in UEFA Nations League games will therefore miss a large chunk of the first two weeks of the season, especially as O’Dowda will join up with Ireland for two days of training with Stephen Kenny’s side before they head to Bulgaria.
Neither Exeter City or first Championship opposition Coventry City are similarly inconvenienced and it does not help new head coach Dean Holden as he looks to make a good start in his new permanent head coach role.
And pray we do not see any injuries during the international campaign as happened last season with the unfortunate Adam Nagy suffering a long-standing ankle complaint from then on. Fingers and more crossed.