Midfielder Bernardo Silva has joined Manchester City team-mate Kevin De Bruyne in criticising the number of matches that players are being forced to participate in.

The City ace made the admission following Portugal’s 1-1 draw against Spain in their first outing of their UEFA Nations League campaign in Seville on Thursday night. Bernardo played the full 90 minutes, meaning he has now made 58 appearances for club and country this season.

As the World Cup in Qatar will take centre stage in November and December later this year, the international fixture calendar has been impacted, with most European nations having to fulfil four Nations League fixtures between now and the middle of June. The 2022/23 Premier League campaign kicks-off a week earlier than usual to accommodate the World Cup, too, meaning extra demands are being put on players.

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Portugal’s draw with Spain, which was secured thanks to a late goal from substitute Ricardo Hota, was their first of four matches in ten days, highlighting the demands and strains players are being put under. And for Bernardo, he has stressed concerns that he and others might not be fully fit by the time the new Premier League season gets under way on August 6.

“For the fans it’s good but for the players it’s hard,” Bernardo admitted, speaking to AS. “After a season in which we’ve had 60 games, to come here and then have to play four more… many people have spoken about it.

“There are too many games, in the end, too many injuries. We start the new season in a month’s time and I’m certain we are not going to be 100 per cent ready.

“It’s tough but it is what it is.”

Bernardo’s frustrations echo the thoughts of fellow City ace De Bruyne. Earlier this week, the attacking-midfielder, speaking ahead of Belgium’s Nations League clash with the Netherlands on Friday evening, criticised the format of the competition, describing it as “unimportant.”

Manchester City duo Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne have criticised the international calendar.

De Bruyne said: “For me, the Nations League is unimportant. We have to play those matches, but it’s a kind of practice campaign.

“Everyone has had a very tough season. As soon as we are on the field, we do what we have to do. Then I want to win. Other than that, I don’t have much to say about it.

“We have nothing to say about it. As players, we can talk about vacation or rest, but we have no say. We follow what we need to do and that’s it.

“We have a little more than three weeks of vacation every 12 months. The outsiders don’t understand how a player feels after a season. It doesn’t have to be, in the end it won’t change anyway. Nor is there any point in saying anything about it. Nothing will change anyway.”

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