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‘Why I love this time of year’ - McAllister

‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’ as the Andy Williams’ festive song goes, and in a football sense, Jamie McAllister is in agreement.

The quick turnaround of games over the Christmas period means it is a particularly busy point in the season.

Following a trip to face Sheffield Wednesday, City travel to Charlton Athletic on Boxing Day, followed by home matches against Luton Town and a New Year’s Day clash with Brentford.

But the former City left-back says he relishes the challenge.

McAllister said: Yes, four games in 11 days is an exciting period, a busy period. It’s my favourite time of year this, a lot of games starting with a big one on Sunday against Sheffield Wednesday; two good teams at it live on Sky.

“As a player I loved playing over Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year. It was a lot of games, and as a player you want to play games. We’ve just been saying that to the lads: ‘you’ve got to be excited about the next 11 days and having four games, give it our all and see what kind of points tally we can get out of those next four games.’”

Of course with so many matches, preparation and player management will be key.

And if there is one thing the coaching staff want to see, it’s working on improving the basics and showing more to their game as the Sky Bet Championship gets ever-more competitive.

“Yes it all comes down to match prep, time on the grass with the players and putting things right from what we didn’t so well in the last couple of games,” McAllister said. “We make sure we work on that. The Gaffer touched on it in his post-match stuff about being world-class at the basics. It’s so important to do the dirty side of the game.

“There’s two sides to the game and you’ve got to do that well to earn the right to play so the fundamentals of winning tackles, getting on second balls, being disciplined and organised from set-plays not conceding to then go and give you that platform to play so we’re focused on that  and hopefully we can implement that on Sunday.

“All players are in the team for different reasons. They have different strengths, different USPs so it’s important you get that balance and that continuity to win the next game. That’s formation, the right team selection, the right personnel that goes and suits that game but within that you have to have the same core values: the same organisation, discipline and hard work and you have to do the basics.

“As I keep saying, it’s so important, you’ve got to earn the right to play. We have good footballers but you have got to do both sides of the game, which we are good at, and we let it slip a little bit in the last couple of games so put it right come Sunday and we go again.”