A number of Premier League teams advised Gareth Southgate that they are concerned about their English players being injured if they play on Andorra’s famed artificial pitch on Saturday. The Estadi Nacional, which seats little over 3,000 people, has a 3G surface that has sparked widespread criticism since it first opened in 2014.
“It was by far the worst pitch I have ever played on,” said Wales winger Gareth Bale in 2014. “I can’t describe how bad, bobbly and hard the pitch was to deal with.” Teammate Aaron Ramsey expressed his wish to never play on an artificial surface again, after rolling his ankle during the same game.
Work has been done on the Estadi Nacional surface since then, but the Daily Mail reports that it is still not enough to persuade Premier League clubs that playing on the turf will not put their top players at risk of injury. Artificial surfaces are seen to put additional stress on joints like ankles.
Several managers have pushed Southgate to rest his key players with England almost set to win Andorra regardless of lineup. According to The Telegraph football news, Tottenham striker Harry Kane, who has a history of ankle ailments, is said to be at the top of the list of concerns.
In the last five years, Kane has had seven ankle problems, and while he is not understood to be suffering from any new ones at the moment, there is a concern that the Spurs star will struggle to adapt to playing on artificial grass. For what it’s worth, Kane is said to want to play and break Wayne Rooney’s all-time goalscoring record, but it appears that his club would rather see him rested and focus on the upcoming match against Hungary.