Two meetings to take place - one with Premier League coaches, the other with captains and senior players; player welfare and fixture list on the agenda, along with five substitutes; Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel confirms Romelu Lukaku, Ben Chilwell and Callum Hudson-Odoi negative Covid tests
Thursday 23 December 2021 20:06, UK
The Premier League is to hold two meetings on Thursday afternoon to discuss player welfare and fixture congestion.
One meeting will take place at 4pm with all Premier League managers and the other one is with captains and senior players.
Managers and players are concerned about the number of games they have to play in quick succession during the Christmas holiday period because of the demands it is putting on squads which have been reduced in size as a result of Covid-19.
They feel they are being put in an impossible position by being asked to play three games between Boxing Day and January 2. Premier League rules say teams have to fulfil fixtures if they have 14 fit players.
Liverpool were one of the clubs who spoke in favour of postponing one round of fixtures at the Premier League shareholders' meeting on Monday but their call was not backed by the majority of clubs.
Players are unhappy that they have not been consulted more during the latest spike in Covid cases. They feel they should have more of a say about the demands which are being placed on them going forward.
Many managers also want the Premier League to allow them to make five substitutions during games. IFAB gave leagues the option of allowing five substitutes but Premier League clubs decided to stick with three.
Five substitutions were allowed temporarily in the Premier League last year and Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola are among the managers who want to be allowed to use two extra substitutes again immediately.
Thomas Tuchel brought on regulars Jorginho, Reece James, Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount and N'Golo Kante in the second half of Chelsea's 2-0 victory at Brentford in the Carabao Cup quarter-final on Wednesday night to great effect, with James' cross leading to a Pontus Jansson own goal and Jorginho scoring a penalty in the 85th minute.
"We knew this, that we had five changes, and we have five big changes with a lot of quality and also fresh legs because they were not overused and yes, that helped us a lot. It's needed you know," he said after the match.
"You know that I am a big fighter and supporter of five changes, they were invented in Corona times to protect the health of the players and I think when we decide to keep on playing we should think about bringing this back.
"This helps to share minutes and from players coming back from Corona it helps to let them play again so it is very, very important to have that."
Tuchel also revealed his squad has been handed a further boost after three key players who had previously tested positive for Covid had now returned a negative test.
"We have negative tests today for Romelu (Lukaku), Callum (Hudson-Odoi and Ben Chilwell," he added. "Romelu and Callum should be on the training pitch tomorrow. It's good news but I'm not over-excited."