DAVE Whelan has called on the Premier League to ‘stand up and be counted’ – and use its influence to scrap meaningless international friendlies.
Latics face European champions Chelsea in the big Premier League opener on Sunday week in front of the Sky cameras at the DW Stadium.
However, several of their players – including skipper Gary Caldwell, James McCarthy and Shaun Maloney – will have spent much of the lead-up away on international duty.
And Whelan believes it’s a situation that ‘shouldn’t be allowed’ to happen.
He told the Evening Post: “It is scandalous, absolutely scandalous.
“The Premier League should stand up and be counted. They should say: ‘Sorry, you’re not doing that. You’re not having our players at certain times of the year.’
“The Premier League is called the Premier League for a very good reason. It is the premier footballing league in the world.
“And they should be strong enough to be able to stop this sort of thing from happening.
“They’re only friendlies – they’re not even competitive internationals. It shouldn’t be allowed.”
Whelan stopped short of calling for a blanket ban on international friendlies.
But he believes a rethink is needed to factor them into the packed calendar.
“I’m not saying there isn’t a time and a place for friendlies to take place – not at all,” he added.
“But there should be a limit on them, and they should definitely be kept away from important times of the year, like the opening weekend. We are paying the wages of these lads, and we are entitled to have our best players available to play on the opening day of the new season.
“It’s enough to make you tear your hair out at times.
“You can’t be flying all over the place and then play a Premier League match the day after you get back.
“The main worry is that the players come home injured.
“But there’s also the fact they come back not in the right condition to be able to play for their clubs. It’s just not right.”
As things stand, Caldwell and Maloney will be on Scotland duty for the clash against Australia next Wednesday night, although James McArthur has missed the cut with a back strain.
McCarthy has been recalled by Ireland for the trip to Serbia after pulling out of Euro 2012 for personal reasons, while Antolin Alcaraz could be the worst affected with Paraguay playing Guatemala.