Bilic orders players to train on Christmas Day

  • by Staff Writer
  • Wednesday, 23rd December 2015

Slaven Bilic says he'd prefer to spend Christmas at home with his family - but will be with his squad instead, as they prepare for the Boxing Day trip to Birmingham.

Bilic's side face Aston Villa in the traditional Boxing Day round of fixtures this year and the manager has revealed that the travelling party will spend the latter half of Christmas Day together.

"We're going to train on Christmas Day as we have to do something the day before the game," he said. "Normally we train in the morning but as it's Christmas Day we're going to train at four o'clock and after that, we're going to drive to Birmingham and play the next day.

"Like all people we'd like to be with our families for the Christmas period, or for New Year's Eve, but it's great for the fans and it's great for football and we're looking forward to it. This is normal in England and that's the schedule. It's the same for every team."

The manager also revealed that he expects his side to face a stern test at Villa Park - despite the hosts, currently five points adrift at the bottom of the table having failed to win a single Premier league fixture since the opening day of the season at Bournemouth.

"Every game is difficult and Aston Villa are struggling," he said. "They're bottom of the table and they need to start picking up points if they want to stay up. But I've seen a few of their games and they had a really good game against Newcastle, especially after they equalised. For 20 minutes they were the better team.

"I've seen the energy, I've seen the quality and they are fighting for their lives. They have confidence now, having taken a point from an away game, and now they are playing at home and looking forward to the game. Make no mistake, I'm not expecting anything easier than Swansea, Stoke or Man United.

"They have some quality players that can harm you and as I said, I've seen a lot of positives about their game - especially against Newcastle."

In terms of personnel, there are unlikely to be any changes from the squad that travelled to South Wales last weekend for the goalless draw with Swansea. "It looks as if we'll have the same squad now," added Bilic.

"We could hopefully have one or two back for the Southampton game. There's a slight chance that Andy Carroll's going to be back for Villa, but we're not sure so it might be the same."

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