Di Matteo slams Premier League's refusal to postpone Sunderland game ahead of Chelsea's Club World Cup campaign

The Italian claims his players will be strained by the fixture list and believes the decision poses a 'big injury risk' to his squad ahead of their trip to Japan in December
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo has hit out at the Premier League's refusal to postpone his side's match against Sunderland on December 8 in order to give them longer to prepare for the Club World Cup in Japan.

The Champions League holders are due to play their Club World Cup semi-final match in Japan on December 13, five days after the fixture at the Stadium of Light, and the Chelsea boss claims his players will be strained because of the Premier League's decision.

"We’ve tried to postpone the Sunderland game to give us the best chance – but the Premier League didn’t agree to it, as usual," Di Matteo told reporters.

"So that is going to put a strain on the players because we are only going to be able to travel after that match and arrive three days before our first game in Japan.

"You would think the Premier League would have every interest in making sure they give you the best chance to be successful in Japan - which would reflect very, very well on English football and the Premier League."

Di Matteo insists the Premier League's refusal to move the fixture is an injury-risk to his players and claims the initial decision to travel to Japan early was to ensure that preparations were correct for the tournament.

"The important thing for us would have been to go there a few days before so the players have enough time to adjust to the new time zone," he added.

"I don’t understand it. This is one of the biggest trophies in international club football, if not the biggest.

"I’m very surprised about it. I can’t get my head around it. To give yourself the best chance travelling to Japan, with nine hours time difference, arriving three days before, you will need to do everything in your power to be able to [get] ready for those games.

"The tournament starts on the sixth so the team we play in the semi-finals will have been there already for a week. It’s a big risk in terms of health, injury risk for the players too."