Petr Cech column: Fixture scheduling and player welfare

I appreciate that the removal of FA Cup replays has freed up dates in that week, but compounding issues by such an unnecessary congestion of fixtures with a two-day gap between each match is an unhealthy situation. We also find ourselves playing against an opponent in Brighton who, in comparison, only have one other match in the same seven-day period. This cannot be good for the integrity of the game or the competition.

Everyone accepts we are all operating in unprecedented times. As a club, we are playing our part to keep everyone safe, make as many players available for selection as possible, and keep football going and the league on track, with player welfare paramount in our minds. It’s a shame that doesn’t appear to have been reflected in recent decision-making around fixtures.

I know from my experience as a player how much difference an extra day or two can make in the recovery process. I played many games over many years during the Christmas period when it gets really hectic with game after game in England and I enjoyed it so much because it’s a special part of English football.

However, we have to realise that we are pushing the players now beyond their limits. We have a huge amount of fixtures, a huge amount of minutes for players who are also dealing with the unprecedented Covid times. Every hour is crucial for a player to recover and actually limit the risk of a potential injury and keep the performance levels without being at risk.