Belfast Telegraph

Dalglish: Focus on player welfare

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish believes more attention should be paid to the welfare of players with the end of the season producing a packed fixture schedule.

The Reds have played six matches in 21 days in March and could have another 12 to play over the next seven weeks. There could be further disruption to their schedule with both themselves and May 6 opponents Chelsea in with a chance of reaching the FA Cup final. By the end of the season Dalglish's side could have played 16 games in 10 weeks.

"It is a difficult job to work out the schedule of matches because there are that many games to be played," said the Scot. "Television has been fantastic financially for clubs - no one would be in the position they are in without television - but I think the most important consideration should be players and how quickly they can turn themselves round."

Health issues have been thrust into the spotlight by the collapse of Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba last weekend, and although the Liverpool manager was not linking the two issues, he believes sometimes players are being asked to do too much in too short a space of time.

"Sometimes it is unfair on them for them to be expected to turn around as quickly as the fixtures come up," he added. "I think someone should be looking at that, whether it is the Premier League or the Football Association or television.

"For me, the people who should be looking at it closest of all is the PFA (Professional Footballers' Association). It is their players who produce the fantastic fare which is the Premier League and they cannot do it when games come with such a short interval in between them.

"They (the players) always say playing is better than training but rest is part of training as well.

"If they are not getting the proper rest, either because someone is demanding they play quite quickly back-to-back or they are not preparing themselves properly off the pitch, then it is going to make it more difficult for them."

Aside from keeping players fit, with Glen Johnson and Craig Bellamy set to miss Wednesday's match at QPR, Dalglish's biggest problem has been consistency. A week ago victory in the Merseyside derby ended a three-match losing streak in the league, but he knows they have to put a good run together to close the 10-point gap to fourth place.

"It always helps when you are consistent - the best teams are always consistent and we want to get there," added the Reds boss. "It has been a fantastic effort so far and they have a lot to play for between now and the end of the season."

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