Stoke`s Walters slams fixture schedule

London: Stoke City forward Jon Walters has criticised the Premier League`s jam-packed year-end fixture schedule after his side had to play two away games in four days.

Matches come thick and fast in England during the festive period, but whereas some clubs benefited from back-to-back home games, a number of teams had to play away from home twice.

West Bromwich Albion travelled to Tottenham Hotspur and then West Ham United on December 26 and 28, while Southampton had to visit Cardiff City and Everton.

Stoke`s fans, meanwhile, had to make a 700-mile (1125-kilometre) round trip to take in the 5-1 defeat at Newcastle United on Thursday and Sunday`s 3-0 reverse at Tottenham Hotspur.

"Got to say fair play to all the Stoke fans who travelled to both away games at Christmas time and never stopped singing! #hardcore," Walters wrote on Twitter.

"Also a big well done to whoever sorted out the fixtures over this period! It was nice for every team who were at home on the 26th to be home again on the 28th/29th.

"That`s a fair way of doing things for fans and players alike who have to travel length and breadth of the country at Christmas time!!"

This season, Premier League clubs have been obliged to play four times in the space of 12 days over the Christmas period, prompting complaints from managers.

Manuel Pellegrini, manager of Manchester City, said the schedule was "not normal", while Hull City manager Steve Bruce said that asking teams to play twice in the space of 48 hours was "ridiculous".

The English Premier League is the only major European championship not to observe a winter break.