(Reuters) - Allowing five substitutions can help clubs manage player workload better given the busy fixture list and surge in COVID-19, but such a move would hand an advantage to the top teams, Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira said on Friday.
Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick and his City counterpart Pep Guardiola have both urged the Premier League to increase the number of substitutions from three to five as a way to protect players.
“I think five subs regarding the period that we are in at the moment can be the right answer for us as a manager. But I don’t think that would be fair for the top five teams and the rest of us,” Vieira told reporters ahead of the Boxing Day clash away to Tottenham Hotspur.
“Any decision you make you always have people who are for and against. But for me, I don’t know if we should remain with the three substitutes.”
The Frenchman said that he wasn’t too concerned about the high number of games during festive period but added that it was tough on players coming back from COVID-19 to play without enough training.
“I’m not worried about the players’ welfare regarding the games in this period as it’s been like this for years. I am worried regarding COVID,” he said.
Vieira confirmed that Palace have reported “a couple of positive cases” in the last few days. Palace’s trip to Watford earlier this month was postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the home side.
“We hope we’re going to be okay (to face Spurs) but when you’re looking at the number of cases around we start to be worried,” said Vieira.
“I think (Spurs is) a really difficult place to go. The atmosphere, the players’ energy... so what is important for us is to play with courage, with confidence and belief.”
Palace are 11th in the league standings with 20 points from 17 games, six points adrift of six-placed Spurs.