Graham Potter has called for care to be taken with players’ physical and mental welfare over the dark winter months.

Albion’s head coach resisted any invitation to say there is a good time to play Liverpool.

But, from a coach’s point of view, he can understand why opposite number Jurgen Klopp thinks 12.30pm this Saturday is potentially quite a BAD time for his club.

In fact, Klopp went further than that.

He has described the schedule facing his side as “nearly a crime” after he saw a much-changed line-up lose 2-0 at home to Atalanta on Wednesday.

It remains to be seen whether Klopp has done a great job saving legs or has put doubts in his players’ minds.

Potter saw both sides of the argument when taking questions at his press conference looking ahead to the Liverpool game.

He understood Klopp’s complaints but also the TV companies’ requirements – and the fact the broadcast deal has kept clubs going since March.

But he also spoke about the bigger issue of looking after players, keeping them fit and on the field.

Albion have twice voted in favour of the five-from-nine substitutes option used during Project Restart and will do so again if the chance comes.

Let’s not pretend that has nothing at all to do with the fact they believe it suits them tactically given the make-up of the squad.

But concern over the welfare of players, and a desire to do the right thing on that score, is also totally genuine.

Potter said: “We were asked to vote about how we can make the problem a little bit easier.

“It seemed like five subs was the sensible thing to do, bearing in mind we did that at the back end of last year.

“You look at this season and think it’s a shorter season, the internationals are going to play more because there are more games in the break.

“We’re going into winter so there is more chance of catching Covid, there might be more positive tests and more isolation, it will be a bigger push on players.

“The fact that we’re in lockdown means that from a mental health perspective, if you’ve got a lot of players from overseas, they won’t see their family, they’re here to play football and that can be quite challenging.

“There’s lots of things going on and that’s why I thought the five subs rule was quite a sensible one to alleviate the problem.

“Over Christmas we play a lot.

“So everything has been made worse by the circumstances of a global pandemic.

“On the flipside to that, you have got revenue which is important for the clubs and the TV companies provide that because we haven’t got it from crowds and sponsorships.

“It’s a really complex situation and I can certainly understand Jurgen’s point, it’s a real challenge for all of us.

“I am not the guy who knows how much the TV companies pay for them.

“I don’t know how much they pay for a 12.30pm kick-off.

“If that’s the case, I can see why they would want to have the product at the time they paid for it.

“Whether you have to renegotiate, that’s not for me to talk about.


“Fortunately I am not part of that problem, I have got my own problems.

“We’re in a world where there are a lot of people suffering, there are a lot of people losing their jobs and being furloughed.

“Industries have gone to the wall.

“It’s not just football that is suffering, everyone is suffering.

“We have to suck it up as best as we can.

“Liverpool have certainly got it more complicated than we have with the games and the schedule they have.

“You can flip it and say they have got players they can rest on Wednesday night who without any disrespect would get into our team. It’s so complex.”