Which is not good news for those clubs who operate within the Premier League and with last season’s “Project Restart” permitting five matchday changes from a pool of nine potential replacements, the same concessions have not been afforded this time around.
Something that has certainly drawn the ire of a number of English top flight managers and you only need to look at the injury that Toby Alderweireld picked up in Tottenham’s win over Manchester City, as positive proof of this.
After previously representing Belgium in an international triple header, he was once again called upon by his employers and even though the North London outfit operated a Jose Mourinho masterclass on their way to victory, it came at a cost to their defensive bedrock.
With the former Atletico Madrid centre back set for a lengthy spell on the treatment table, the congested fixture schedule has once again been called into question and although there is no room for manoeuvre regarding dates, amendments can be made regarding matchday substitutions.
As things stand, the Premier League is yet to find a consensus on the matter and for every voice that demands a return to the tail end of the previous campaign, there is another that suggests that things are fine as they are.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is the managers of the bigger teams that are the most vocal, as not only do they look to compete on multiple fronts but they also have a greater percentage of players being called away for international duty.
With that said, there is a surprise further down the English football chain and with the EFL identifying their own issues regarding potential player fatigue, they have recently voted for a return to additional personnel changes.
Because although those who compete within the Championship, League One, and League Two will not have to worry about European away days, they do have eight more league fixtures then their more established counterparts.
While not only are there more league encounters to deal with, but there’s also a far shallower pool of player resource and when you consider how far budgets would have been cut, it means clubs at League Two level may only have a squad of 18 or 19 senior professionals
Which means asking them to play so much football, in such a little amount of time, may prove to be too big a request and of course, that is before you consider any additional efforts such as cup competitions or the end of season play-offs.
Therefore, the EFL’s decision can only be viewed as one steeped in common sense and the ability for their 72 managers to make more changes, will at least lessen the strain on squads that have already been heavily impacted.
With the EFL leading the way in English football’s latest substitute debate, the big guns of the Premier League will hope that the rest of the division will bend. Then again, we’re nine weeks into this new season and you get the feeling, the relative minnows are not for changing anytime soon.
Written by Dan Tracey