Holloway defends changes

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The Independent Football

Ian Holloway is ready to fight his corner if, as expected, the Premier League come calling this week for an explanation of his team selection against Aston Villa.

The Blackpool boss made 10 changes to his side for the 3-2 defeat at Villa Park on Wednesday and could now face a similar sanction to the one imposed on Wolves last season.

Wolves were given a suspended £25,000 fine by the Premier League after making the same number of changes for a match against Manchester United, with manager Mick McCarthy admitting he took the decision with the following game against Burnley in mind.

Holloway insisted he did nothing of the sort ahead of Saturday's clash with West Ham at Upton Park and denied any wrongdoing by giving the 10 players, many of whom were late summer signings, a chance to prove themselves.

The Premier League yesterday confirmed they are investigating the matter and Press Association Sport understands they will write to Blackpool this week before deciding whether to take any action.

Holloway, who has threatened to resign if the club are punished, said: "I'm not having anyone tell me who I can play. My chairman doesn't do it so why should the Premier League? Who the hell are they to tell me if my players are good enough or not before they've even had a chance to play?

"I'm allowed a 25-man squad this year - that wasn't the case last year - and I utilised that squad. I picked a team with experience and youth and enthusiasm and I thought they were absolutely terrific.

"That team included three international players who haven't played for us in the first team because I owed the team who did ever so well for me last year the chance to play.

"When I get a chance to talk to them (the Premier League), if they want to see me, I will explain in a calm and calculated fashion."

Holloway received support from opposite number Gerard Houllier following the match on Wednesday and yesterday other Premier League managers backed his stance.

Fulham boss Mark Hughes said: "I know Ian and he's very passionate about his football club and his team. And if he makes a decision, I would imagine it's in the best interest of the group of players that he has.

"So if people on the outside want to influence that, I would say that would be incorrect."

Stoke's Tony Pulis expressed similar sentiments while West Ham manager Avram Grant insisted he had no problem with Holloway's selection ahead of their meeting.

The Israeli said: "They did what they had to do for that (match). Also they have a bigger squad than us, and without injuries, so they could do it."