UEFA Set To Walk Back 23 Man Squad Return

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With the 2023/24 domestic European campaign slowly edging towards a close, a lot of countries have (or will) experience very dramatic run ins in the final few remaining games as titles and relegations begin being confirmed.

The tight English Premier League battle continues, the Bundesliga has already seen a very unlikely winner, and Inter will again be crowned in Serie A after their opposition completely fell away and undoubtedly, elsewhere and in other leagues, the twists and turns will continue.

With the season coming to a close though, it brings football fans back to the upcoming summer transfer window and the 2024 European Championships, and as attentions slowly start turning in that direction, it has now been reported that UEFA are set to confirm that they will continue to allow 26 man squads moving forward.

The 26 man squad extension idea was introduced originally as a response to the Covid pandemic back for the 2020 games, as plenty of managers were on record criticising the 23 man limit for tournaments if isolation had to continue as the main response to the infection. The three man extension has been kept for competitions since, mainly because the bizarre mid-season Qatar World Cup was a significant physical drain on all players, but UEFA had planned to reverse the decision for this competition.

It seems that they have been forced to again reverse that decision as a recent coaches meeting, several prominent national head coaches argued that the boosted squads should remain, for the foreseeable future.

Fans will certainly see why the idea garnered growing support amongst the gaffers of other countries, as UEFA seem determined to explode the international calendar further with expanded tournaments and addition teams, and on a domestic club front with a growing European calendar, fixtures and the number of games some sides play is already a major topic of discussion and concern.

Dutch gaffer Ronald Koeman called the idea to reduce squad sizes back to 23 as being an ‘absurd’ suggestion in the current climate, whilst England gaffer Gareth Southgate also changed his on record thoughts. Southgate originally spoke about his concerns of squad management and spirit in a bigger group, but he cited the amount of injuries in the Premier League this season, and that was why he is now behind keeping the newer 26 limit.

Other managers also apparently argued the injury issue front as a motivation behind keeping the extended group, and no doubt some would have waxed lyrical about player welfare and giving them more fulsome opportunities to rest.

It is probably not the last time we have heard about increasing squad options, or even substitutions, but many would argue it simply suits the better sides by giving them greater options, but this now seems to be the direction the modern game is going in.

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