O'Neil asked to move Everton game to protect players

4 months ago 147
Matheus Cunha of Wolverhampton Wanderers (right) celebrates a goal with manager Gary O'NeilWolverhampton Wanderers won all three of the games they played within six days at the end of December

Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Gary O'Neil asked for his side's match against Everton on 30 December to be moved over workload concerns.

O'Neil said he approached the Premier League about moving the game to the following day but it was not possible.

Despite his worries, Wolves thrashed struggling Everton 3-0 having played three games in six days.

"I'm risking players getting injured by asking them to go again," said O'Neil.

"The league are always fine, there's normally reason why they can't do it.

"They were open to listening to what I spoke about and they looked into it as much as they could but said it was, unfortunately, not possible.

"Three games in six days is tough. You are always playing with someone hurting or not fully recovered.

"It's excessive, to expect them to be at the level they are supposed to be at."

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Wolves beat Chelsea 2-1 on Christmas Eve and thrashed Brentford 4-1 on 27 December before making it three from three against the Toffees.

O'Neil's comments come after the Professional Football Association said it is exploring options to take legal action over the growing number of games in the football calendar.

The congested schedule includes the Champions League and Europa League expanding to 36 teams, a 32-team Club World Cup and a 48-team World Cup.

World players' union Fifpro is also campaigning for changes to the football calendar to protect players, after their report in June said footballers need protecting from a "dangerous" schedule.

O'Neil added that he had "no complaints" but would have preferred more of a break between games.

"We'll play when they tell us to play, my players are as game as any group I've met.

"A little bit longer to play three games would have been ideal. You never feel yourself, especially in the third one."

Wolves are 11th in the Premier League after a promising end to 2023 that saw them take 13 points from their past six games.

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