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WATCH: How do the squad handle a three-game week?

4 April 2019

Football often offers punishing, gruelling spells when fixtures come thick and fast and players are forced back onto the pitches with barely enough time to return to full fitness.

The Christmas period stands out as an obvious example but when teams play midweek in between clashes at the weekend, the density of fixtures can often be equally punishing at other times, too.

One of those times for Palace is now, as the Eagles have just finished the second of three games in just one week.

With Huddersfield Town last Saturday, Tottenham Hotspur on the Wednesday and then Newcastle United away this coming Saturday, there has been no time to rest for Roy Hodgson's men, who have been hitting the turf both in training and competitive meetings.

So just how do they - and other Premier League clubs - manage it? Palace TV spoke with Head of Sports Science Scott Guyett to find out...

The Australian former defender began by suggesting that playing two of their three recent fixtures in London has helped Palace, saying: "This week's not too bad, we played Saturday at home so there's no travel and then we played a London game on the Wednesday. The real difficulty this week will be that turnaround after the Tottenham game, going into Newcastle."

But making that turnaround is still crucial for Palace to succeed and so the recovery of their squad is of paramount importance. Sandwiching training amongst matches and still demanding players to give their all is no easy task, though Guyett explains that it cannot be his and the team's sole priority.

With up to 14 other players still to consider, a lot more goes into preparing a full squad than what might meet the eye.

"The players that are involved in all three games, it tends to be about recovery so they don't do that much on the pitch. The most difficult thing in weeks like this is dealing with the players that are playing and trying to get enough training into them without it compromising them playing in a game potentially.

"We've got a squad of 25 players and at the moment we've got good availability. We have to get work into those players that haven't been involved. So on Saturday mornings, there will be a group in at the training ground and they'll do a bit of training here. They're the players that aren't in the squad.

"And then the players that are in the squad but don't get any game time or get limited game time will do some running on the pitch after the game. That's just to make sure that come Sunday evening when the week starts, everyone is in a similar position or as close as possible to where they would have been if they'd played."

For those who do end up playing in every match, to interrupt the cyclical routine of elite-level football, the Palace staff have found a refreshing way of offering some respite whilst maintaining a tough training schedule.

Guyett elaborated, saying: "Just to break the week up, we tend to take them down to David Lloyd. They jump on the bikes in there, on the foam roller and they'll all be in the pool afterwards. It just breaks the week up a little bit, it's a different environment for them, somewhere where they can go in and have a bit of breakfast, a coffee and a chat."

So when does the real break finally come?

"Post-Saturday against Newcastle. We don't play until the following Sunday so luckily for us, we'll be able to give the lads Sunday and Monday off. Then we will just push that week back one day: our Tuesday becomes our Monday and so forth."

To watch the full interview with Guyett and understand further how a Premier League club manages such demanding workloads, click on the video below.


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