The Denmark coach, Morten Olsen, has warned that England players will go to Euro 2012 lacking the "hunger" to succeed if a winter break is not introduced to lessen the effects of the energy-sapping Premier League campaign.
Olsen, whose side failed to emerge from their group at the World Cup finals last summer, is taking charge of his last qualification campaign after 11 years as national manager. The 61-year-old boasts a wealth of experience and said England would not prevail at the highest level until they address their domestic calendar.
"Sven-Goran Eriksson said it: the players never rest," he said. "You play so many games and you play nonstop for 11 months. In Germany, Italy, Spain, you have a break. It's not only physical, but mental. You have to come away from football, rest your mind and be hungry about football. That may be one of the problems – they will go to the Euros in Poland and Ukraine after coming from the Premier League and the Champions League, so many of their players are tired and have no hunger. They want to give everything but they will be empty, mentally and physically.
"To say [the schedule] is killing them is a big word, but it is the right one. England have tried everything. They have had two coaches from abroad. Their players don't play kick and rush any more. They play modern football. They are flexible tactically. What else is there? They must rest. If I eat the same food every day, I get tired of it. It is the same with football. You have to be hungry and, at the moment, England are empty at tournaments.
"A winter break would be for the benefit of everyone if the space could be found for it. I know it is hard. I know you have League Cup and the FA Cup and the biggest clubs are playing in Europe. But there are so many games and the coaches want them to play them all. After 60 matches they are finished."
His views were backed up by Thomas Sorensen, the Denmark goalkeeper who has played in the Premier League since 1998 for Sunderland, Aston Villa and Stoke. "England have always had really good players – absolutely world-class," he said. "As a team, you look at them player by player, they are only behind Spain and Brazil, and England belong to a group of eight to 10 countries capable of winning the World Cup next time.
"They always go through easily in the qualifying stages, but maybe the players are tired when they get to the World Cup and the European Championships in the summer after the long and very hard English season. They just never seem to deliver what people – and themselves – expect."