International break. Two words that strike fear into the heart of many club supporters and prompt a cold sweat from managers.
And Liverpool fans in particular have good reason to bemoan the impact of such periods.
In the last week alone, they have seen their leading scorer contract coronavirus, one of their two remaining senior centre-backs suffer a serious knee injury, their skipper unable to last beyond 45 minutes in one fixture and their chief left-back completely sit out another.
Fingers and more besides will therefore be crossed in the hope Liverpool do not suffer any further fitness setbacks before the squad reconvenes later this week to prepare for the Premier League visit of leaders Leicester City on Sunday evening.
While Reds boss Jurgen Klopp acknowledges international football retains a welcome place in the game – although crowbarring in another round of friendlies in recent international breaks has been a step too far – such sentiments aren’t shared by a significant number of Liverpool followers.
There is, however, one group of people who disagree with the claim there is no value to international football.
The players themselves.
Being called up for your country remains the ultimate honour for the majority of footballers.
Even those, such as Jamie Carragher, who freely admit defeat for their national team didn’t hurt quite as much as a loss with their club still wore their country’s colours with pride.
And the current Liverpool squad are no different.
There were few prouder Scots than Andy Robertson after the Reds defender last week skippered the country to their first major tournament in 22 years.
Gini Wijnaldum responded to being handed the captain’s armband by Holland with two goals in a win over Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Mohamed Salah is the star player for Egypt, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita likewise with Senegal and Guinea respectively. Alisson Becker, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino are all integral for Brazil, arguably the most celebrated national team of all.
Kostas Timikas, Neco Williams, Thiago Alcantara, Diogo Jota and Xherdan Shaqiri are squad regulars for their countries. And that’s without even mentioning Liverpool’s strong England contingent.
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Few should be surprised the 100% commitment they all give to Liverpool is replicated with their country.
There is no chance any will turn down the opportunity to represent their nation. After all, such an attitude has helped make them the successes they are at Anfield.
The only good news for Reds fans is that, after this week, there is another four long months until the next international break.