Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is considering lodging a formal complaint with the Belgian FA, saying they “forced” defender Thomas Vermaelen to play in the friendly against Greece on Wednesday even though he was injured.
The normally diplomatic and urbane Frenchman was uncharacteristically forthright when asked if the centre half, who has come through a series of injuries, would be fit for Saturday’s Premier League match at Liverpool.
Wenger said the defender was doubtful and added: “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.”
Speaking to reporters at the club’s training ground, he continued: “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.”
Wenger also said Robin van Persie was a doubt for Saturday’s game after he played for the opening 45 minutes for the Netherlands against England at Wembley on Wednesday.
Van Persie has been in outstanding form for Arsenal, scoring 29 times this season, but nursed a groin injury throughout the week.
“The friendlies are becoming more and more difficult to accept for everybody,” Wenger said.
“I was always in favour of using the players for official games and I never asked any player not to go 100% for his country when it is a qualifier or a big competition, but the friendlies are becoming more and more difficult, especially in this period.”
Arsenal, like most of the leading European clubs, have a tough schedule between now and the end of the season in May and Wenger said the calendar makes it “impossible” to get the best out of players for both club and country.
“For us it is vital we do not lose the players now. If you go into a period like that with players already touched (by injury) you have more chances to lose the players,” he said
“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.” — Reuters