Lifting the lid on the world of football

The Secret Physio
7 Jun, 2012

No more injuries, please!

Well, England have been together for only a few weeks and four players – John Ruddy, Gareth Barry, Frank Lampard and Gary Cahill – have already pulled out of Euro 2012 through injury. Is this due both to players being involved in demanding end-of-season campaigns or Mr Hodgson’s training methods?

We have discussed in previous articles the effects that a long season can have on players’ health and, fortunately, many of the players had a week off to quickly recharge their batteries. It does seem, though, that several were involved in demanding Premier League and Champions League campaigns right at the end of the season and, thus, picked up muscle injuries, suggesting that their bodies were more fatigued than appreciated.

Gareth Barry injured an abdominal muscle in the friendly game against Norway and Frank Lampard strained a thigh in training. And yet for Ruddy and Cahill, their Euro-ending problems were more freak accidents than anything else – how do you legislate for Ruddy’s broken finger in practice and Cahill’s double fracture of the jaw against Belgium? You just can’t.

Many of the English clubs are hoping that no one else breaks down. This is always the concern when half of your squad gets a well-earned rest after a lengthy season to recover properly and the other half go off to a demanding tournament, increasing their risk of not being available for the start of the new season. It is further complicated this year with players wanting to be involved in the Olympic Games.

The job of the medical staff with an international squad is very much day-to-day management of minor injuries. Both Barry and Lampard picked up significant issues that warranted them leaving the squad altogether as it would have taken more than three to four weeks to recover. Therefore, they would have returned to their respective clubs for rehabilitation, thus messing up their medical teams’ holidays!

Being involved in international tournaments is very intensive. There is no respite and you are on-call 24 hours a day. Many club physios have a similar experience when they go on tour for ten to 14 days during pre-season. No days off, no family, living in hotels, unfamiliar climate and culture, organised games every three days.

Depending on how successful a team is at the World Cup or Euro finals, they can be away for well over one month as well as having two weeks’ preparation time. This is a major commitment for medical staff, who have been working with clubs during the season and then have to go on to international work.

Many countries, such as England, have staff who are employed full-time solely by their FA. In theory, this is supposed to allow staff with no vested interest to provide excellent care, good communication with teams and have a fresh dynamic approach. Let’s hope so.

At this stage, I’m just hoping there are not any more injures. If there are, perhaps questions need to be asked why?

About the author: The Secret Physio


I have been working in professional football for more than 15 years, operating at the highest level in the Premier League and experiencing the excitement of European nights. I've had both the pleasure and pain of working with various managers, coaches and players, all with their own ideas and philosophies.

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