Aston Villa manager Remi Garde has cautioned his players about letting their hair down at Christmas, telling his players to “focus on their jobs”.
The Villa Park chief wants his squad to be professional and focused ahead of a key period in their survival fight.
They go to Southampton on Saturday seven points adrift from the safety line in the Premier League with Jack Grealish still in exile from the first team after he was pictured partying following last month’s 4-0 defeat at Everton.
Garde refused to confirm whether rock bottom Villa will have a Christmas party but insisted whatever his players do during the festive period they must behave.
He said: “You think I should be worried? I can’t imagine when you have opportunity to play in the Premier League, in a big club, big games, that you could be disturbed by this time of parties. Even if it is Christmas.
“You can have Christmas with family and be prepared to play this game. If you speak to every European player they would like to play Boxing Day, this time to play is fantastic. You have to know this is our job, you do it in a way that you are prepared to be 100 per cent focused. Of course, it is a party time but not for us. That is it.”
When asked whether Villa were having a party Garde said it was a “private issue”.
Grealish will not feature at St Mary’s but Garde hinted the 20-year-old could be back with the first team on Monday.
“It could be (fair to assume he is back on Monday),” he said.
“The way Jack is playing is more important for me. Now we have to look at the performance of each player and in the forthcoming weeks – I am more focused on that than what he did.”