As preparations for preventing spread of COVID-19 dominate the attention of the restart team, Premier League coaches have expressed concern about the increased chance for injury once play resumes.
Tottenham’s Jose Mourinho decided this weekend against playing any full-length training games after deeming it “too risky.” Several star players for the team, including top two scorers Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane, are returning from injuries that they suffered before the season was suspended.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, meanwhile, remarked that he felt his team was unprepared for the brutal restart plan, which expects his team to play ten matches in six weeks. In Germany and Spain, the two major European countries whose soccer leagues have already returned, players were given six weeks to prepare for their seasons. England’s Premier League, meanwhile, is only offering three weeks of training. English doctors have also expressed concern for the restart plan: a BBC survey found that over half of the team doctors “do not fully understand their roles, responsibilities and potential liabilities,” despite statements from the League that assert player health and safety as their top priority.
Yet even the German Bundesliga, which offered its players more time to prepare, has seen its injury rate triple to nearly one injury per game, including fourteen in the first weekend. Most of these injuries — 68 percent — are muscular, indicating that they are fitness related. And star players at teams involved in the title race, like Thiago Alacantara and Thorgan Hazard, have fallen victim to muscle problems.
Fortunately, the potential injury problem will not affect the title race in England, as it may have in Germany, following Erling Haaland’s injury, given Liverpool’s massive lead. But it may have major ramifications on the relegation battle, where only four points separate 15th and 19th place, and where teams may not have the requisite depth to keep players healthy while playing twice a week.
Nonetheless, the Premier League returns, and it should bring its fair share of excitement. Hopefully, that excitement won’t be mired by a spate of injuries.
For more thoughts and opinions from Mara, check out her author page.
Image Source: AP Images