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Festive schedule is ludicrous - Sunderland boss Bruce

Bruce 'puzzled' by fixture congestion

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has called for an end to the "ludicrous" festive fixture list after seeing three players suffer muscle injuries on Tuesday.

Nedum Onuoha, Danny Welbeck and Asamoah Gyan were all injured in the Black Cats' 2-0 home defeat by Blackpool.

Bruce says it is "nonsense" that his players should face five games in eight days and he now wants a winter break.

"Every country in Europe does it," he said. "We should be taking a break too, there should be a break here."

Bruce's sentiments were echoed on Tuesday by West Ham manager Avram Grant following his side's 1-1 draw against Everton.

The Hammers were playing for the second time in three days, whereas wintry weather problems meant that Everton had been out of action for eight days.

Grant said: "It's not easy to play two games in 48 hours; this is the only country that plays two games in 48 hours.

"It's okay if both teams have equal chances but if one team needs to play and the other comes fresh, it's a big disadvantage."

Most teams in England face up to four fixtures during the 10-day festive period.

Why not play it later on in the season? We should be breaking like every other country. Forget the tradition

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce

The call for a winter break such as that employed in Italy, France and Spain has been backed by Premier League managers.

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is a long-time supporter of such a rest, while Manchester City manager Robert Mancini and West Bromwich Albion head coach Roberto di Matteo have also spoken in favour of the idea.

Wolves manager Mick McCarthy has gone on record as saying he has never wanted a winter break.

Now, having had three of his players injured in the match with Blackpool - two days after his side lost 2-0 to Manchester United - Bruce has added his voice to the argument.

He said: "That's the biggest concern for me - if we don't speak up, all of us, especially as Premier League managers.


"A footballer can play every day of the week if you want him to, but to ask him to go and play at Manchester United and then play 48 hours later, this is the result.

"Welbeck has got a strain, Gyan came off with a hamstring, Onuoha came off with a hamstring - and those are the consequences of playing two games in 48 hours at this level.

"We have got five games in 13 days starting from last week. It's ludicrous considering that was our 20th game today.

"It's nonsense, it really is nonsense. I just really can't get to grips with why."

Sunderland attracted their biggest crowd of the season - 42,892 - for the visit of Premier League new boys Blackpool three days after Christmas.

Blackburn are next up for Sunderland on Saturday, but Bruce believes that it is time for a change.

He added: "We have got to forget about tradition.

"Why not play it later on in the season? We should be breaking like every other country. Forget the tradition."

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see also
Sunderland 0-2 Blackpool
28 Dec 10 |  Premier League
Tuesday's football as it happened
28 Dec 10 |  Football
Tuesday's football photos
28 Dec 10 |  Football
Manchester United 2-0 Sunderland
26 Dec 10 |  Premier League
Trio in title battle - Ferguson
27 Dec 10 |  Premier League
How to watch Match of the Day
09 Aug 11 |  Match of the Day

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