Albion facing Christmas pain

Albion boss Roberto Di Matteo today put his whole squad on standby for their festive fixtures.

Albion boss Roberto Di Matteo today put his whole squad on standby for their festive fixtures.

The Hawthorns chief believes four matches in nine days over the holiday period will take their toll on his squad.

And Di Matteo believes the busy festive programme will leave his squad fatigued into the New Year.

"Christmas is very demanding as a player," said the former Chelsea midfielder. "Playing two games in 48 hours is very tough. I remember I was in pain in the second game because your body just can't recover.

"You go into the second game and your hamstrings and calves are still tight. You can feel them and you don't know how you are going to get through it.

"So it's a tough period, and in January you always feel it. Your body will be run down at some point in January. We are all under pressure but I would rather have the points I have than other teams.

"I am pleased with the ones we have, but you can easily lose two or three games so the pressure is always there."

West Brom will train on Christmas morning before spending the afternoon with their families and travelling to Bolton tomorrow evening for their Boxing Day match.

And Di Matteo believes the Trotters, who have spent more than a decade in the Premier League, are a model for the Baggies' long-term future.

"I think you can compare us," he said. "We can look at them as a role model and someone to copy. The first year is probably the most important one. The second one is difficult too, but the first hurdle is the most important."

And Di Matteo is expecting a tough test from a Trotters side who outplayed his team in a 1-1 Hawthorns draw in October. But he will be able to call on in-form midfielder Chris Brunt despite a groin problem.

"Hopefully, apart from Jonas Olsson, we should have everyone available for Sunday," said the Italian.

"Bolton are have having a fantastic season so far. They have been very good. Owen Coyle has changed them a little bit so they are a bit easier on the eye and they have been very effective."

"And he has got Johan Elmander to score goals this year, which is the first real season he has done so, and that has made a big difference."

By Steve Madeley