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Festive football a treat for Blackburn Rovers defender Henley
TURKEY, Christmas pudding, and a decent amount of alcohol will be a common theme in most people’s households across the country tomorrow.
For the majority of people – away from the emergency services – Christmas Day is the only time of the year when they switch off from work and enjoy a day of celebration with their nearest and dearest.
Professional footballers live a lifestyle to envy as their huge pay packets enable even the most average of players in the top couple of divisions to live a lifestyle to envy.
Buying Christmas presents certainly won’t be a problem for Rovers’ high-earning players this festive period but there are sacrifices as they bid to end the club’s recent Championship slump at Middlesbrough.
A coach trip to Middlesbrough on Christmas Day afternoon is not what most people would choose to do, but Rovers’ squad will be making the journey ahead of Wednesday’s crucial Boxing Day encounter.
Rovers’ teenager Adam Henley got his first taste of senior Boxing Day football in last season’s battling draw at Anfield and insists he would not have it any other way.
The 18-year-old right back has been one of the few bright spots of Rovers’ miserable season so far and will be doing all he can to help turn the collective fortunes around at the Riverside.
Henley said: “There are always sacrifices in football, everyone knows that coming into the game. It’s just part of it.
“Obviously with the games on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day it’s important we prepare right.
“It’s got to be done.
“I think we’ve just got the coach journey on Christmas Day.
Hopefully the manager will give us time in the morning with our families, but it’s going to be an important game on Boxing Day so hopefully everyone will get their mind on it.”
Manager Henning Berg was still making his mind up over the weekend whether he would call his squad in for training on Christmas Day afternoon.
But, with a coach trip to Middlesbrough awaiting tomorrow evening, he insists it goes without saying that all of his players will be preparing professionally for Wednesday.
“We travel to Middlesbrough on Christmas Day in the evening and we will have to see if we are training on the day or not, the decision still needs to be made,” he said. “They are footballers. It is nice to be with your family and open presents with your kids and things like that but they will still eat the right things, drink the right things and look after themselves.
“That shouldn’t even be a consideration and I’m sure it won’t be.”
While Henley currently has all his focus on Rovers’ fading promotion hopes, he knows 2013 could represent a big year for him internationally. Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, Henley is still eligible to play for the United States, but he could also play for both Wales and England.
The full back, whose mother was born in north Wales, has made a couple of appearances for Wales under 21s and was even called up for the senior squad’s friendly against Mexico, where he didn’t make an appearance, “I’m still eligible to play for USA and England,” he said. “I’m happy playing for Wales at the moment. If anything else arises it will be a decision to make in time but we’ll have to wait and see.
“You see it quite often now in international football.
“A decision is going to have to be made, and hopefully sooner rather than later.”
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