Brendan Rodgers said that it is ‘ridiculous’ that his Leicester City team will line up against Liverpool just over 48 hours after a bruising loss to champions Manchester City.
Leicester, who currently sit tenth in the Premier League, are facing a mounting injury crisis with Ryan Bertrand joining the list after he was injured in the warm-up ahead of their 6-3 defeat at the Etihad.
“It’s a ridiculous schedule,” said Rodgers.
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We all know that players aren’t fully recovered for 72 hours after a game, so for us to be playing on a Tuesday against Liverpool, it is ridiculous.
"However, we have to play the game so there will be virtually no physical work, just recovery and then we’ll look at video images and prepare."
Bertrand compounds the pressure on a thread-bare defence, joining Jonny Evans, Caglar Soyuncu, Ricardo Pereira for a spell on the sidelines.
Rodgers also faces conundrums further up the pitch with forward Jamie Vardy unlikely to be at full fitness for the Liverpool game and Harvey Barnes and Patson Daka almost certain absentees.
Leicester were well beaten on Boxing Day despite threatening to overturn the four-goal deficit from the first half. Manchester City had not played for a week before the game, enjoying some rare respite in a busy festive period.
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Rodgers was quick to point out that both his team’s previous and next opponents were able to recuperate after games were cancelled. He said: “This period [off for both teams] clearly is a big advantage and it is just coincidence the context of these two games is probably one of the first weeks Manchester City have had off so they were fresh and ready, and Liverpool haven’t played since our cup game so they’ll be able to bring players back in.
That’s what we have to deal with. It’s a huge challenge for us but it’s a challenge we’re up for. We keep fighting and we keep working.
“We’ll train a little bit later [on Monday], we’ll have a meal together. It’s a very quick turnaround and to play Manchester City and Liverpool in quick succession is a big challenge, especially with the squads they have. We’ll do what we’ve done in this period, our very best. And that’s what we’re prepared to do on Tuesday.”
It is hoped that midfielder Wilfred Ndidi will be fit for the clash with Liverpool having sat on the bench against Manchester City.
“Wilf has played a lot of football for us so he hasn’t had a chance to rest,” said Rodgers. “To put him into [the City] game would have been really tough. Hopefully he’ll be fine for Tuesday’s game.”
Of Bertrand, Rodgers said: “It looks highly unlikely [for Liverpool], he couldn’t bend his leg. Especially with the quick turnaround he may struggle. Jonny [Evans] will be another three weeks so he’s still out for a period and Harvey [Barnes] isn’t due back until about the 29th.”
Rodgers joins the ranks of Premier League managers concerned with a condensed festive schedule, with Covid exacerbating already stretched squads.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel admitted that Covid-19 and injuries meant taking "huge risks" as his players were forced to play more minutes than he would have liked in Sunday's 3-1 win at Aston Villa.
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However, new Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick has dismissed the idea of getting rid of England’s festive fixture list.
He told United’s official website: “If somebody came across the idea to abolish then we might as well speak about abolishing the five o’clock tea or the Queen or whatever – this is all part of the tradition of this country and I’m very much looking forward to being part of this for the first time in my career.”
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