sport

Irvine not seeking excuses

West Bromwich Albion boss Alan Irvine says it is frustrating that some players have not had a proper pre-season but does see some advantages to working with a smaller squad.

Irvine has been busy in the transfer market this summer but Brown Ideye and Cristian Gamboa have had to wait for work permits.

James Morrison, Gareth McAuley, Joleon Lescott and Chris Brunt have also had injuries and Irvine's resources have been stretched to such an extent that he only had 13 outfield players available for a behind-closed doors friendly on Tuesday.

\"I was at a meeting on Monday with a number of the Premier League managers and I spoke to (Tottenham boss) Mauricio Pochettino, who has had 32 players to train with all season,\" Irvine said in the Birmingham Mail.

\"That is at a completely different end of the spectrum and causes other problems because once you go above 20 outfield players it starts to become a management issue.

\"But when you're way below that, then that becomes an issue as well.

\"We've had eight players come in and it was 13 who went out and we're now looking at working with a tighter group of players which has its benefits, without any doubt.

\"If you've got 32 players and a whole load sitting in the stand at the weekend, then you've got some problems.

\"There are advantages to working with a smaller squad as long as they're fit.

\"The problem we've had is that, even though we've had eight players in, with injuries to some existing players and some problems with work permits, we've had eight players who haven't done a proper pre-season.\"

Irvine does not want to dwell on his problems because he has been pleased with the work that has been done on the training ground this summer, but he fears a few of those who missed time will not be fully fit for Saturday's Premier League opener against Sunderland.

He said: \"There is no doubt that's a concern because you've got to try to get them to catch up and we don't do five-and-a-half-week pre-seasons just for the sake of it.

\"If it could be done in a week and a half, you'd do it in a week and a half and everybody would have much longer holidays but that's something we have to deal with.

\"It's happened and we have two choices. We can either get upset about it or just get on with it and we might as well get on with it.

\"You can spend your whole time complaining about players you don't have and neglecting the ones you do have and it's vitally important that we look after the ones we do have.

\"And the ones that have done pre-season have done extremely well.\"