20 Days Remaining

Monday 17th
posted by Morning Star in Sport

Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce will be praying that he he has a fully fit squad to choose from for today’s game against Fulham.

The Villans will take to the pitch at Craven Cottage less than 48 hours after Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to Reading at Villa Park which was played a day later than the rest of the teams in the Championship.

Aston Parish held an Easter service on Good Friday that would have clashed with Villa’s game and, as has previously happened, caused problems for the parishioners attending the service because of congestion.

Villa officials listened to the requests of the local church and played their game against Reading on Saturday, much to the frustration of Bruce who was blissfully unaware of the situation.

He said: “I don’t know why we are playing today [Saturday] when we’ve been asked to play again on Monday — it’s a big advantage for Fulham.”

And when the situation was explained to Bruce he jokingly replied: “Which church is it? I’ll go and say a prayer when I go out.”

Reading manager Jaap Stam claimed the short turnaround between games will also disrupt his sides preparation for today’s home fixture against already relegated Rotherham as the Royals push for promotion back to the Premier League.

“We can’t do anything with the players,” said Stam. “Tonight, when we get back to the training ground, perhaps we can do something with the team with regards to any treatment they need.

“On Sunday we can do a bit of tactical but it won’t be 11 versus 11 like we normally do, it will be basically from standing still to show the players what they need to do.

“Normally two days after you have played a game is when you feel most tired. And two days after the [Aston Villa] game we have another game. But we need to deal with it and thats what we are going to do.”

Reading go into the game fourth in the table, one point behind Huddersfield and three points ahead of Leeds.

And Stam will look to ring the changes as he looks to secure one of the four play-off places. He said: “We’ve got quite a big squad and we’ve got some injuries. But sometime you have to make a few changes as well.”