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Players need rest – Mauricio Pochettino wants better care for ‘principal actors’

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 31 Dec 2023

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Mauricio Pochettino called for measures that prioritise rest time for players after a run of three games in seven days for Chelsea.

The 3-2 victory over Luton at Kenilworth Road on Saturday, which ended a streak of four consecutive away losses in the Premier League, was the eighth match his team has played in December.

The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), which represents the interests of players, is understood to be exploring the possibility of taking legal action over the number of games in which teams are expected to take part.

It comes ahead of the imminent launch of a new format for the Champions League which could see as many as four extra games added to clubs’ schedules, while the 2026 World Cup will feature 48 countries for the first time.

Chelsea are also due to take part in FIFA’s expanded Club World Cup set to take place in the United States in the summer of 2025.

Pochettino, who is one of a number of top-flight managers to have had to contend with an injury crisis during his first six months in charge at Stamford Bridge, said more must be done to protect players amid growing commitments.

“It’s a business that provides many people in many different areas with a comfortable life,” he said. “(But) of course it’s a business where the players are the principal actors. We need to care about them.

“It’s true that it’s the only sport in the world where the players compete for 10, 11 months. Sometimes we need to manage better the way to rest the players, to give the possibility for recovery.

“When we compare with other sports, only footballers are competing for nearly 11 months.

“When you increase the level of competition, football is fast, the players run more, we push them every day to improve and improve their physical condition. But they need rest.”

Pochettino has had to do without a number of key players for long periods this season, most notably his captain Reece James who recently underwent hamstring surgery, as well as Ben Chilwell and new signings Christopher Nkunku and Romeo Lavia.

Defenders Wesley Fofana and Trevoh Chalobah have not played this season, while Carney Chukwuemeka has been unavailable since the second weekend of the campaign.

“It’s a good point to all realise that (there are) 11 players, in the squad 22,” said Pochettino. “When the manager makes changes it’s so not to play the same starting XI every single game.

“It’s to restrict, so players don’t start every two to three days in a busy period. It’s many ideas we need to share all together to find the best solution.

“There have been too many injured the last few years. We need to be cautious about the situation, we need to look after better our players.”

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