Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe hopes a few days well-earned rest will help his squad freshen up for the challenges ahead in 2016.
The Cherries head to Leicester for their opening Barclays Premier League fixture of the new year looking to recover from the 2-0 defeat at Arsenal on Monday night, which brought to an end a run of six unbeaten matches.
Following the hectic festive Premier League schedule, Howe has made the most of five days between matches with a progressive fitness programme designed to give the players maximum recovery time before they run out at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.
“We haven’t trained since Arsenal, not the lads that played, anyway. With the fixture work load we really had to protect our players this week to make sure we go into the Leicester game with some energy, so we are toning down training,” said Howe, reporting no fresh injury problems.
“The general feeling is that you want to work all the time, but you have to be well aware of the physical exhaustion those two games in three days had on our players, it was an incredible physical effort.
“They were two really tough fixtures (over Christmas), so this is about making sure we can go into the Leicester game and perform, and the only way to do that is to recover properly.”
Despite the disappointment of not being able to add to their three straight wins with a goalless draw at Crystal Palace on Boxing Day before a defeat to the table-topping Gunners, Howe sees no reason why the Cherries should not head into 2016 with a positive mindset.
“It (recent results) has given everyone a nice boost at a key time of year, but it’s nothing we did not feel internally was not coming or was overdue, so I would not say it has been anything more than we have deserved,” Howe said at a press conference.
“Now we enter a key run of fixtures in January and we need to make sure we hit the ground running.”
The Cherries boss added: “2015 was a year I am sure will be remembered by everybody, it has been one of milestones for the club, and we hope to make more – the big one will be to stay in the league, that is our target and is what we are trying to achieve in the second half of the season.”