By Jonathan Veal, PA
Tottenham defender Eric Dier has questioned the Premier League fixture schedule ahead of a gruelling run of games before the World Cup.
Having played just once a week for the first month of the campaign, Spurs now enter a period where they have games every midweek – except for an international break in late September – until the season stops for the World Cup in November.
Spurs are challenging on three fronts, with Premier League games, the Champions League starting next week and a Carabao Cup tie in November.
Dier does not know why some fixtures could not have been played earlier in the season.
He said: “We knew the last three weeks wouldn’t represent what the season is going to be like but now it really starts. There’s a lot of games.
“I think it’s strange that we’ve had one game a week for three or four weeks, and then suddenly you’re playing midweek games until November.
“It doesn’t make much sense to me. But it is what it is.
“We have to look after ourselves as best we can in every single way. Our recovery, our professionalism, how we look after ourselves is going to be extremely important.
“We’ve had a great pre-season to give us the right base going into that period. Yeah, I’m feeling good about it. We’ve improved the squad, we have a squad of a lot of depth.”
With such a gruelling schedule where they play 18 games in two-and-a-half months, there is bound to be a bigger risk of injuries, but Dier says they should embrace the challenge.
“I enjoy playing. I don’t mind. For me, it’s no problem,” he said.
“I enjoy playing midweek games and I think we should enjoy playing as much as we can.
“I just think the schedule doesn’t make sense in that for three or four weeks we’ve had one game a week. It doesn’t make sense to then go up to mid-November with a game every midweek.”
Spurs visit West Ham on Wednesday and are then back in action on Saturday.
Boss Antonio Conte, whose side beat Nottingham Forest on Sunday, said: “After Wednesday night we are going to play Saturday. I think we are the only team in top six to play three games in six days.
“I don’t want to complain as I’ve said in the past I don’t want to complain.
“But I think this time we were unlucky and I hope the next time someone else will be unlucky like us and not always Tottenham. I want to underline this.”