Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis blasts Football League's decision to move Sheffield Wednesday fixture

Tony Pulis has claimed Middlesbrough will have to overcome a 'massive disadvantage' when they face Sheffield Wednesday later this month.

Friday, 5th October 2018, 2:55 pm
Updated Saturday, 6th October 2018, 3:34 am
Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis.

Boro’s trip to Hillsborough has been moved forward to Friday October 19, so that the game can be shown on Sky Sports.

The fixture will follow next week's international break, when a large group of Boro players will jet off to represent their countries.

Most of those players, which include Mo Besic, George Saville, Paddy McNair, Martin Braithwaite and goalkeeper Darren Randolph won't return to Rockliffe until Wednesday, which, according to Pulis, will significantly hamper his side.

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“We’ve got nine or ten players, so we’re going to have two days to prepare for the Sheffield Wednesday game when they come back, which I don’t think is good," said Pulis.

“I’m really disappointed that they’ve picked our game for the Friday, when you think that so many of our players are not going to be back into the football club until the Wednesday.

“I’m really, really disappointed because we have more players away than most clubs in the Championship, more players playing for their country. You’d just hope that someone with a bit of common sense in the league would have looked at that."

In contrast, Atdhe Nuhiu is the only Wednesday player who will represent his country's senior side, after being called-up for Kosovo's upcoming Nations League games.

And Pulis doesn't believe the different circumstances of the two clubs have been taken into account.

“For us to be asked to play a day earlier when they should know we’ve got more players away than anybody else, I find very disappointing," added Pulis.

“I don’t think the people at the Football League have taken any notice of the fact that we have so many players away. I think they’ve just looked at it as a good game, and thought, ‘We’ll play that game’.

“If it was better managed, they would have looked at it and thought, ‘No, that’s a disadvantage to Middlesbrough’ – because it is. There’s no doubt.

“Sheffield Wednesday have got one player away, and they’ll be able to work with their team for two weeks. We’ll be able to work with our team for two days. There’s a massive disadvantage there, and I don’t think it’s right.”

This isn't the first time Pulis has complained about the Championship's busy schedule.

Last month, the Boro boss was unhappy when his side received just three days rest after beating Bolton on a Wednesday night, while Boro's next opponents Swansea had an extra 24 hour to prepare.

Before he took over at the Riverside in December last year, Pulis hadn't managed in the Championship since 2008, when he led Stoke City to promotion.

Pulis believes the quality of the division has increased significantly since then, making it much tougher for teams to cope with the league's congested fixture list.

“The Championship is a great league, a league that is progressing and going places. The standard has certainly improved, and the competition has too. For us to be on TV, the people who run the Championship should want the best players out there, showing what the standard is at this level," he added.