West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has reopened the debate over a winter break, insisting: 'You wouldn't flog a racehorse like they flog our players.'
With the nation in the grip of freezing conditions, some of this weekend's Barclays Premier League matches could fall to the weather. The Irons squad enjoyed a short break in Dubai at the end of February last year, and on their return to action lost just one of the remaining 14 npower Championship games as they secured promotion through the play-offs.
Allardyce sees no reason why a few days of warm-weather rehabilitation could not be factored into what is now a draining campaign for all clubs. "You do not need a long one, and at the end of the day you would not flog a racehorse like you would flog our players," said Allardyce, whose side host relegation battlers QPR on Saturday.
"There is a lot of research out there to suggest a winter break benefits football clubs in Europe from suffering less injuries. It shows it is of great benefit, but the fixture congestion with the Premier League and the other leagues find it very difficult to fit in.
"They would say 'What benefit would two weeks make?' Well a hell of a lot if you could leave your players doing nothing for a week in terms of rest and recuperation, physically and mentally. That would get them re-energised physically and mentally and ready to move forward again.
"After we went away to Dubai for four days last year, we only lost one game after that, went all the way through to the play-offs and won the last six games on the trot. The physical output of the players increased to what they were achieving before they went away. It shows you that just a few days in fact can make a difference."
West Ham lost their midweek FA Cup third-round replay at Manchester United and have recorded just one league win in their last six outings. While the gap on the relegation zone stands at seven points, Allardyce knows the importance of keeping a healthy distance over the battle for survival.
"When you play the big boys it is always great if you put a good performance in and if you get a result it is a magnificent result, as it was when we beat Chelsea 3-1, but it is not as important as beating the teams that are below you," Allardyce added.
"At this stage of the season, as the games tick by, you don't want them getting that bit close to you as it brings the pressure on you. There is concern there, but we still have a reasonable distance between us and the bottom three.
"We must always remember our level of performances this year have suggested that if we continue to get that level we will be good enough to stay clear."