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Stoke City Boss O’Neil : Mikel ‘Stronger’ Thanks To Hectic Schedule

Stoke City Boss O’Neil : Mikel ‘Stronger’ Thanks To Hectic Schedule

Stoke City manager Michael O’Neil says John Mikel Obi is getting stronger with more game time.

Mikel, 33, has played every minute of Stoke City’s hectic league season so far.

The former Nigeria captain hadn’t played since March when he joined Stoke in pre-season and was given time to build himself up to top speed.

But, as captain in the absence of Ryan Shawcross, Joe Allen and Sam Clucas, he has been increasingly influential as Michael O’Neill is trying to juggle and balance his squad through a manic run of fixtures.

“What sports science and medical information gives you is a knowledge of how robust players are and some are more robust than others in terms of their ability to play and consistency,”O’Neil said.

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“If you look at John Obi Mikel, he has got stronger with the more games he’s played as opposed to the players who play in attacking positions who maybe need to be given spells when they’re rested for periods or we have to withdraw them at certain parts of a game looking forward to the next one.

“We have to manage the load of the players very carefully.

“They do very little between games, if I’m honest, which is difficult for the players who don’t play because training is very limited. Between times of rest, recover and prep you are pretty much getting one day’s preparation before a match.

“But it’s a challenge we all have to deal with and certainly going forward managing the workload going forward will be more crucial than any other season, given the short nature of it.”

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