Nuno | Head coach 'proud' of his international squad

Nuno Espirito Santo expressed his pride of seeing the majority of his first-team squad called up to represent their national teams during the next seven days.

Fifteen members of his 21-man squad will be away from Compton Park as they will be either training with or playing for their countries on the international stage. However, with so many players absent, it has caused disruption to the head coaches preparations as he tries to embed six new signings into his tight-knit group.

On the benefit of international experience

“It’s huge. This week, we’re going to have 95 per cent of our team involved in national teams. That says a lot, and it’s huge in the development of a player.

“First of all, it’s a natural ambition for a player to have; to play for his home country is one of the highest moments a player can have.

“Listening to the national anthem makes you realise that millions and millions are behind you, it makes you grow in terms of responsibility and improving your ability and you get to play at the highest level, against the best players that are around. The national teams are the best players from each country, so it’s highly competitive.

“When our players return, let’s hope they are healthy, but also that they have come back better players.”

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On Podence’s Portugal call-up

“I’m very happy because he’s working very hard. Last season and the beginning of this season, the way he has performed, it’s very deserved.

“But it’s not only him, we have so many players who are going to be involved in national teams, so it’s a big thing for us as a club, in terms of having recognition of the national teams to call up our players. They trust them to represent their home counties, so I’m delighted for all the players that have been called up.

“Hopefully everything goes well, they have the chance to make the first cap, the second cap, and so on and so on, because this improves them as players, as people, and is what we want – for them to be better.”

On Traore being called-up by both Spain and Mali

“He has had to make his own decision. It’s a personal and family decision, but it’s not easy when you have to choose between where you were born and where you come from, all these issues require a decision.

“But I think he dealt very well with the situation, and I hope that he plays, so this situation can be over.

“He made his own decision to play for Spain, and I hope that he plays, so he can achieve this big dream to play for his national team. I support him in his decision, and I think if that is what he wants, he should go for it.”

On international breaks limiting training time with his players

“We are proud that they go to national teams, but I think the schedule is not correct. We had them with no preparation at the beginning of the season and then they went to national teams, now that we are getting back and have some time, they go again. But this is the pandemic, and everybody has to adjust.

“I don’t speak to the national coaches [about his players’ playing time]. I don’t have authority to say anything about that.

“But what we try is to keep in contact and have the information of the training sessions, give them information about our players and where they are at the moment, so they can manage better, because at this time, they are their players.”