Lecce squad not designed to play every three days, says coach

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Serie A - Lecce v Inter Milan - Stadio Via del Mare, Lecce, Italy - January 19, 2020 Lecce coach Fabio Liverani reacts REUTERS/Alberto Lingria

(Reuters) - Lecce only managed to field 11 players in their relegation battle against Brescia because two of their team agreed to play despite not being fully fit, coach Fabio Liverani said after his side’s 3-1 win.

Liverani, who said that Gianluca Lapadula played despite ankle pain and Filippo Falco needed an injection to take to the field, added that Serie A’s smaller teams were not built to play twice a week.

“If Lapadula and Falco hadn’t put their hearts into it, we would have struggled to put 11 players on the pitch,” said Liverani whose team remained in the drop zone and four points adrift of Genoa, the lowest team outside the bottom three.

Serie A has crammed the final 12 rounds of fixtures into six weeks to complete the season which was put on hold for three months because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“Playing every three days has changed the rules of this sport and teams with small squads, like ours, have been exposed,” he said. “The lockdown has been devastating for us.”

Although Serie A’s bigger teams are used to playing twice a week when they take part in European competition, that is not the case for the smaller clubs who generally play only a handful of midweek matches per season.

Lecce spent roughly six million euros (5.5 million pounds) in the transfer market this season, a fraction of clubs such as Juventus and Inter Milan.

Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Toby Davis