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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

'Diabolical' Premier League fixture puts players at serious injury risk - Allardyce

Sam Allardyce says that Sunderland's tight turnaround in fixtures could cost the team points.

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce is incensed that the Premier League have scheduled a matchday so soon after his FA Cup tie against Arsenal on Saturday, calling the decision "diabolical."

The Black Cats will face Swansea at the Liberty Stadium on Wednesday Jan. 13, before heading to London just three days later to take on in-form Tottenham at White Hart Lane.

With such a congested fixture list, Allardyce argues, there is the potential that teams will not only devalue the FA Cup by naming weaker sides, but also run the risk of seriously injuring players by overworking them.

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"Of course I'm going to make changes for our Cup tie at Arsenal on Saturday," Allardyce told the Guardian. "If the Premier League decides to put a stupid fixture midweek when they don't bloody need to, then I haven't got much choice.

"It's diabolical. We're flogging the lads. There are more and more injuries every year but it's completely ignored by the Premier League. It's unbelievable. If you want us to respect the FA Cup, don't put Premier League fixtures in the midweek just after new year. Don't give me stick when I change the side at Arsenal. Give the Premier League stick, not the managers."

Sunderland's Premier League match against Swansea was originally scheduled to be played on Tuesday Jan. 12, but the Welsh side successfully lobbied to get the match pushed back a day -- much to Allardyce's chagrin.

"Making me play Wednesday and Saturday rather than Tuesday and Saturday is making it harder for me to get Premier League points," he said. "With having three away games in succession we've got around 2,000 miles of travel and the lunchtime kick-off means we've less than three days recovery for Tottenham."

"Swansea probably won't play their best team at Oxford [the Swans' FA Cup tie on Saturday], they're likely to make changes.

"But I'm not annoyed with Swansea, I'm annoyed with the Premier League."

Responding to specualtion that the Premier League had scheduled the midweek fixtures to appease international broadcasters desperate for football content while other European leagues were on their Christmas break, Allardyce urged the league to put the players' health ahead of any economic concerns.

"It would be very sad if the Premier League had put in midweek fixtures next week for that reason, because we get enough money as it is," Allardyce said.

"How much more money do we need, for God's sake? It's a game to be enjoyed, not a game to be destroyed and we destroy the game by asking the players to do too much in this period.

"The Premier League have the facts, they've had them for years. The game gets ever quicker, you get more and more injuries in this period and everybody at that level just ignores it."

Sunderland have lodged an objection to the scheduling of their games but, so far, that complaint has fallen on deaf ears.

"They've described our complaint as frivolous," Allardyce said. "They don't look at the facts properly.

"To dismiss our appeal was totally and utterly wrong by Mr Scudamore [the Premier League's chief executive]. Richard Scudamore has my number and he can ring me up any time he wants to tell me why he agreed the change. But he won't call."

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