When the Premier League resumes it does so with a bang as Liverpool host Manchester United in the early kick-off on Saturday.
Until then we must make do with the international fixtures, including England’s World Cup qualifiers against Slovenia and Lithuania.
But those fixtures could have a major bearing on the meeting between Liverpool and United, particularly if reports that Jose Mourinho is putting pressure on Gareth Southgate are correct.
The Manchester United manager allegedly wants Marcus Rashford to be given a rest in Sunday’s match with Lithuania should England have already qualified for the World Cup, a scenario that will play out with victory over Slovenia at Wembley tomorrow.
Such a request, if granted, would play in Manchester United’s favour with the young striker being fresher for the game at Anfield the following weekend.
But it could prove a double blow to Liverpool, as Rashford’s omission may well lead to the use of a Liverpool player in his place. Both Daniel Sturridge and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, two players on the fringes of the England starting XI, would be viable alternatives for Gareth Southgate.
Any involvement for the duo will put them at risk of injury and potentially tire them ahead of the Premier League clash six days later.
While Southgate has always insisted he will pick the team he wants, he has in the past spoken of looking after Rashford. Considering the 19-year-old has been heavily involved for club and country already this season, the England manager may share Mourinho’s view it’s a good opportunity to give the young striker a break.
‘We [England] must also play a part and make sure he is looked after and we have shown that with the decision we made over the summer with the under-21s,’ he said recently.
Rashford is expected to start the match with Slovenia at Wembley tomorrow night in a front-three with Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling.