West Ham midfielder Mark Noble has no issues with pushing his body through the hectic Christmas schedule.
Noble made a club-record 205th Premier League appearance against Newcastle on Saturday, but faces a fitness test ahead of tonight’s trip to West Brom.
Much has been made of the traditional British festive football fixtures, with Irons manager Sam Allardyce a long-time champion of a break after the FA Cup third round in January, while this week new Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal questioned the wisdom of playing so many matches in such a short space of time around such an important date in the family calendar.
Noble, though, believes professional footballers should have few complaints.
“It is hard if you have got family and kids and you have to leave them on Christmas Day to go and train but listen, we are a small minority of lucky players.
“We have obviously worked hard for this, but we are lucky enough to have the ability to play in the Premier League, so you have to take the good with the bad and if you have to play over Christmas, then you have to.
“We have a good life and playing football over Christmas is not the worst thing in the world.
“You think about soldiers out in Afghanistan or Iraq, and they are not with their families and they are getting bullets fired at them whereas we are playing in the Premier League, so you’ve got to put it in perspective.”
Noble, 27, added: “The Christmas period is so demanding and you need a big squad for that because people do pick up injuries.
“We have four games in eight days and you need the squad to be able to deal with that. I think we have that this year.”
West Ham sustained their place in the top six with a scrappy 1-0 victory over an in-form Newcastle side on Saturday. Noble believes the Irons must not let their standards slip.
“It is natural for expectations to go up. We are in a good position, but we had to dig in harder to get a result (against Newcastle).
“That was a massive result, because it takes the pressure off us a little bit and we can go to WBA now and enjoy it.”
Meanwhile West Brom boss Alan Irvine has urged Baggies boo-boys to be supporters rather than just fans, admitting their criticism of him “hurts” and “stings”. “I’d be telling lies if I said it didn’t hurt. It stings.
“I know it works both ways and we’ve got to give them things to cheer about. Hopefully in the good times we can do that, but in the difficult times we could do with our fans being exactly that.”