Injuries pile up as EPL managers vent at festive workload

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PA Wire

Aston Villa goalkeeper Tom Heaton, centre, is carried off the pitch on a stretcher, during the English Premier League soccer match between Burnley and Aston Villa, at Turf Moor, Burnley, England, Wednesday Jan. 1, 2020. (Anthony Devlin/PA via AP)

It's tough to know who had the bigger workload during a Premier League festive period perhaps like no other - the players or the clubs’ medical departments.

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce lost four of his players to injury - and was forced to keep on the field a player, American DeAndre Yedlin, with a suspected broken hand - in a 20-minute spell around halftime during a game against Leicester on Wednesday.

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe fielded already-injured players in his team’s loss at Brighton days earlier, while Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson acknowledged starting star player Wilfried Zaha against Norwich despite knowing he was carrying a problem.

Across a period where some teams were forced to play four games in an 11-day span, a website that compiles injuries in English soccer’s top flight - Premier Injuries - has calculated that there were 53 reported injuries sustained by players.

“Like all things in life, it’s about quality over quantity,” said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who has been one of the most vocal critics about the workload asked of a modern-day player.

“If you have a good friend and you see him twice a year, it’s brilliant, the best time of your life. If you see him every day, you’ll think after five days, ‘What the heck?’”

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, the owner of one of the best and deepest squads in world soccer, also spoke out Friday about the crammed nature of the festive period in England.

“Like I’ve said before, nobody cares,” Guardiola said, referring to soccer’s authorities. “And next season there will be more than 50 injuries in this period again.”