(Reuters) - Talismanic West Ham United midfielder Dimitri Payet has been granted extra time off to help the Frenchman recapture the scintillating form he displayed last season and to help cope with the Premier League’s demanding festive schedule.
Payet has struggled to match his exploits from the last campaign, having scored just twice in 13 league games so far as West Ham sit 17th in the table, a point above the relegation zone after 15 matches.
“Dimitri had a very demanding season like everybody else last year and then went straight to the Euros,” West Ham manager Slaven Bilic told British media of the France international.
”He didn’t have a proper rest or pre-season and the schedule of the Premier League is one that you don’t have a winter break and you cannot give him two or three weeks off.
“We have got to give him days off to protect him. It is a team sport but sometimes you have to treat individuals differently. It depends on how much they play or if they have any private issues.”
Payet, who signed a five-year contract in February, made a fine start to his West Ham career last season, scoring nine league goals and adding 13 assists to propel the club to seventh place, their highest top-flight finish since 2002.
“Dimitri is experienced enough... he had one extra day off when he was in the gym and he was on the massage table doing a different kind of training,” Bilic said.
“That is the kind of thing you can give him to avoid the possibility of fatigue and overloading. But it is not just Dimitri, we do that with other players as well when you feel they are tired and have to change their routine a bit.”
West Ham host 13th-placed Burnley on Wednesday before they face fellow strugglers Hull City three days later.
Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by John O'Brien