Santa Cotts gives players day off

Geovanni, right, celebrates his goal on trial for Pompey with Noe Pamarot

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The family rows, the burned turkey, broken toys and a sozzled in-law – Pompey players have got all of that to look forward to this year like the rest of us.

While most professional footballers will be asked to report to Christmas Day training, kind-hearted Steve Cotterill has told his troops to stay at home with their families to enjoy the yuletide festivities.

But Cotterill's gesture to allow his players the day off the day before the Boxing Day clash with Millwall comes with a condition: the players do their own work on the day, wearing fitness monitors to prove they've done a short workout.

If they play their cards right, they could even make sure they miss the Queen's Speech.

Cotterill explained: 'I'm not bringing the players in on Christmas Day.

'We have been able to do the work and done everything we need.

'We will start half an hour early on Christmas Eve and train for as long as it takes. Some have got a minimum one hour to get here, others are two hours away.

'By the time I bring them in, train them and send them back home, it would be nigh on 3pm.

'They would be getting home, having their dinner and then going to bed because they've got to be up at the crack of dawn the next day because we've got an early kick-off.

'I thought we could do the work that we needed to do and let them get up on Christmas morning with their family and friends and let them open their presents.

'Those who have got kids will be up at 6am anyway, they'll be putting batteries in all the toys and then later in the afternoon, they can do a 25-minute run with their fitness belts on so that we can collect all the data on what they have done.

'They know what they have got to do on Christmas Day.

'They just need to do their running in a field or a park near them.

'They will only be away from their families for an hour and I think it's far better doing that than having them out of the house for five hours on Christmas Day.'

It's another indication of Cotterill's man-management that he is prepared to trust his players.

And after handing out his gift to the players, he expects three points in return from the Millwall clash.

He said: 'I will find out if they appreciate it by about 3pm on Boxing Day.

'They will be up to speed on everything by the time they leave us on Christmas Eve and they will be ready for the game on Boxing Day.

'Managers might be fearful of public perception but we are ready and we are prepared.

'Whether we are in on Christmas or not, one thing is for sure – we won't be having too many days off in the next 10.'

Cotterill also believes he has out-thought any player who might try his luck to enjoy an extra helping of Christmas pudding.

He smiled: 'They will all be going out for a run on the day – there is no way they can get around that.

'A couple of them have already joked about tying it on a dog. It won't happen!

'They cannot get away without bringing their belt in and they can't get away without having any data on it.

'If it's not on there, they will be fined and they know it.

'It's my trust and I trust every single one of them to do it. That's why I feel comfortable about it.'

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