Nigel Adkins, the Sheffield United manager, has explained his decision to demand the club’s players report for duty at the Steelphalt Academy tomorrow.
Although some of their rivals have been granted Christmas Day off, United’s coaching staff have refused to follow suit and scheduled a training session before travelling to Wigan Athletic 24 hours later.
Adkins, despite expressing sympathy with his squad’s predicament, told The Star: “You are professional people. We are always in a day or two days before a game. Don’t get me wrong, of course I care about people. That’s what it’s all about at this time of the year. Caring for people. But this is also our job and, like many people, we will have to work. So you have to prepare right.”
United, who climbed to ninth following last weekend’s victory over Scunthorpe, will move to within a point of fifth-placed Athletic if they prevail at the DW Stadium. Bradford City, in eighth, visit Bramall Lane on December 28 before United host Peterborough on January 2.
“We are working on Christmas Day,” Adkins said. “Many people work, my dad always did shift work for example.
“We go to Wigan with the mindset to win, then recover for Bradford. The mindset has to be to come in and prepare properly for the next game.”
Adkins, who started his managerial career at Glanford Park before arriving at United via Southampton and Reading, added: “I know it’s hard, especially when you’ve got young children. We’ve got to travel to Wigan, yes, but at least it’s not at the other end of the country.
“I remember when we were at Scunthorpe and, because we were away at Middlesbrough on Boxing Day, we had to stay over in a hotel. We trained late in the day so the lads could open their presents with their kids and then went up.”
United, who could recall Jose Baxter for the meeting with Wigan after the midfielder missed the last four games due to a combination of injury and disciplinary issues, are also electing whether to include Florent Cuvelier in the squad following his return to fitness.
“Flo came to Scunthorpe with us, he was part of the group,” Adkins said. “He’s put in some good work for the under-21’s which is great to see because it will help.”