Charlton blasts festive fixture list

CHRIS LAKEY Canaries midfielder Simon Charlton has slammed the fixture compilers, describing the Christmas schedule as a 'joke'.

CHRIS LAKEY

Canaries midfielder Simon Charlton has slammed the fixture compilers, describing the Christmas schedule as a 'joke'.

Yesterday's home game against Preston was City's fourth since they opened their holiday campaign at Sheffield United on Boxing Day.

But while the first three brought nine points for City, they ran out of steam yesterday as the schedule took its toll in the most damaging manner. And Charlton believes that the pen pushers at Soho Square have plenty to answer for.

“Four games in eight days, it's a joke,” he said. “My own opinion is that people at the FA who have probably never kicked a ball in their lives just put these things down and don't take any notice of the fitness aspect of it.

“Medical people up and down the country are pulling their hair out because injuries happen.

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“With the game nowadays being so quick and faster than it was even five years ago, it is hard work for the players and I do think it needs to be looked at.”

Clubs like City especially feel the pinch as injuries and illness combine to play havoc within a small playing squad.

“The clubs who do have small squads have to rely on putting weary legs out even before the whistle has gone and it doesn't help at all,” said Charlton. “Clubs who can put fresh legs in have a big advantage. We don't have the biggest squad at the best of times and with injuries and illness players are having to grit their teeth and get through it.”

Charlton admitted the schedule had an affect yesterday against a Preston side which had played one game fewer over the same time period.

He said: “I think the lads looked tired. There was no spark whatsoever, their goalkeeper had two crosses and hardly any shots to save.

“We all know we haven't performed well today and we are bitterly disappointed about how the run has ended, but if you look at the big picture and say would you have taken nine points out of 12 over the Christmas period, you probably would have said yes.

“From that point of view it has been a good Christmas period, but everyone is disappointed at how it has finished.”

A goal down at half-time City, despite not playing well, were still in the game. But then referee Nigel Miller decided that Craig Fleming had handled in the area and when Graham Alexander fired home the spot kick the game moved out of City's reach for good.

It was decision that infuriated Fleming - and Charlton.

“It did touch his hand but if somebody flicks the ball up a yard away and with Craig's arms down by his side there was nothing he could do - it's one of some very bizarre decisions today,” said Charlton. “If he watches the video he will probably admit he had a poor game.”

Preston wasted time at every opportunity, but Charlton refused to criticise their players for their overt gamesmanship.

“I don't really blame Preston for that, I think you have to look at the referee for not being on top of it,” he said.