Former Arsenal midfielder John Jensen has been named as the Denmark manager for their UEFA Nations League opener against Wales after the row which has rocked Danish football took an extraordinary twist.
Denmark’s preparations for their game in Aarhus on Sunday are in turmoil after an extraordinary row over the players’ commercial rights.
The Danish Football Association (DBU) is set to field a team made up of domestic first and second division players in Denmark, rather than stars like Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen and Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Denmark are playing Slovakia in a friendly on Wednesday and DBU director Claus Bretton-Meyer told the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR) that they have selected a squad drawn from the first and second divisions of the domestic league.
It has also been reported in Denmark that members of the national futsal squad, an indoor five-a-side game played with a smaller and harder ball, will feature in the squad.
The DBU confirmed that the 53-year-old Jensen will be in charge of the Slovakia and Wales games rather than national-team coach Age Hareide.
“Where we are now, I see only losers in the conflict, and Danish football loses most of all,” Jensen told the official DBU website.
John Faxe Jensen træder til og er træner-vikar til Herrelandsholdets kamp mod Slovakiet.https://t.co/QcjDUu0ZPt— Dansk Boldspil-Union (@DBUfodbold) 4 September 2018
“When I say yes to help here, it’s because I feel very, very strong for the national team as an institution, and because I think the most important thing must be that the games will be played after all.”
Jensen, who is noted for scoring in Denmark’s Euro 1992 final victory against Germany, spent eight months coaching in the Premier League at Blackburn in 2011.
He went on to become a consultant at Brondby and spent fours years in charge of Danish club Fremad Amager between 2014 and 2018.
“I do not consider the matter between DBU and the players, my yes is not an expression of it,” Jensen said. “I just hope to help us get through the two matches and that the parties find a solution as soon as possible.
“The national team has meant infinitely much to me in my career and in my life.
“It hurts to follow this course, and I hope my contribution can help mitigate the negative consequences.”
Denmark, who reached the last 16 of the World Cup in Russia this summer and are ninth in the FIFA rankings, have been beset by internal problems over the past 12 months.
The national women’s team boycotted a World Cup qualifier against Sweden in October 2017 in a dispute over employment conditions.
Sweden were awarded a 3-0 win and UEFA fined the DBU £18,000, and also warned that Denmark would be barred from UEFA tournaments if it cancelled another match in the next four years.
So failing to play Wales would almost certainly see Denmark expelled from the 2020 European Championship.
DBU elite manager Kim Hallberg said: “We must hold teams in the two international matches to avoid millions of fines and possible exclusion of the national team for several years.
“On behalf of DBU and Danish football, I am pleased that John Faxe Jensen has taken the hard task of being coach in both matches.”
Tottenham midfielder Eriksen had earlier called for a truce in the row and said Denmark’s players were willing to play the two games under the terms of the old commercial rights agreement.
The 25-year-old, who joined the Blues from Real Madrid last year, enjoyed a flying start to life at Stamford Bridge, but could not build on it and found himself out of the side.
He scored just three times in 23 games in the second half of the season and missed out on Spain’s World Cup squad as a result.
And Morata, who has earned a recall for his country’s UEFA Nations League games against England and Croatia, thought about leaving the Premier League club in favour of a return home or a move to Italy.
“I thought about playing again in Spain or Italy, of course I thought it would have been happy, but you cannot always escape from reality,” he told the Spanish press.
“It was a disaster last year, I did not know where I was, I was not happy.
“Not going to the World Cup was hard for me. I did not have the best season and the coach made the decision.
“I signed for Chelsea to be there and I was not, although that ultimately made me motivated.
“I do not hold a grudge against (former Spain coach Julen) Lopetegui, I’ve lived a lot of nice things with him too, it was his opinion and I did not do my best season either.
“But I do not hold a grudge against anyone, I wish him all the best and more now that he is at Real Madrid.”
Morata, who has won 23 caps, admitted he took his international career for granted and was left heartbroken by missing out in Russia this summer.
He added: “I experienced it, it was a very hard moment that has already happened and it’s not worth looking at the past, I’m going to do everything I can to go to the next one, it was a difficult moment because I thought I was going to go.
“When you start playing football and watch the World Cups on TV, it’s your biggest dream to play it with your country, I had a very bad time, I wanted my team-mates to win it but of course I wanted to be there and it was a very difficult moment.
“There are times I have stopped valuing coming here, you do not think about it until you see the national team matches from your home and you know that it is the greatest thing to be with Spain, I hope to come for all the games.”
Rice was omitted from the Republic squad for Thursday’s UEFA Nations League opener against Wales in Cardiff with manager Martin O’Neill revealing the West Ham defender is still deliberating over switching loyalties to England.
London-born Rice has three senior caps for the Republic but they all came in friendly matches, meaning the 19-year-old could yet decide to represent England instead.
Warrington-born Brooks, like Rice, has appeared in three international friendlies, but the Bournemouth forward is set to end any doubts over his future by representing Wales in a competitive fixture against the Republic, who the Welsh face in Cardiff on Thursday.
“There is a decision to be made by younger players like Declan Rice and myself,” said 21-year-old Brooks.
“I don’t know his situation and what he wants to do so I can’t really comment on that. But for me it was always going to be Wales and thankfully I got that opportunity.
“I won’t be switching even if I don’t get on against the Republic.”
Brooks did represent England Under-20s at the Toulon Tournament in 2017 when he was named the competition’s best player.
But Brooks, whose mother Cathryn is from Llangollen, joined the Wales set-up after that tournament and has won senior caps in friendlies against France, Panama and Mexico in the past 12 months.
“You obviously listen to what your family have to say and there’s other influences involved as well,” Brooks said of his decision to play for Wales.
“You can get all the advice in the world, but if you want to do something for yourself you have to (make a decision).
“There’s no going back from that and I can’t wait to get the Wales shirt on again.”
Brooks’ previous international experience came when he was a Sheffield United player.
But an £11.5million switch to Bournemouth has turned him into a Premier League player and he feels he is already benefiting from his summer move.
“Eddie Howe (the Bournemouth manager) has been great to work with,” Brooks said.
“The training has been spot on and I can see myself improving already, and hopefully it can continue.
“It’s the same with Wales as the quality in our squad is there for all to see.
“I’m a big Manchester United fan and I grew up watching the gaffer (Ryan Giggs).
“He was a fantastic player and won near enough every trophy under the sun, so I’m delighted to work with him.
“It was a bit strange meeting him at first, but I’m used to it now and I’ve just got to kick on and try and impress him.”