Injury Crisis In Football Should Send Warning To Saints
Friday, 13th Nov 2020 10:11
Recently there has been a spike in the number of injuries in football, although some of them have been down to reckless challenges such as that by Jordan Pickford on Virgil Van Dijk, others have not been the result of foul tackles, Saints should be looking at this.
Gone are the days when it was one sub only in football and now the big clubs are calling for five subs, although this is a bit drastic given the size of squads these days, the recent injuries in football have highlighted the need to make use of the full number of substitutes available.
The injury to Joe Gomez apparently happened not from a tackle but from turning and catching his knee in the ground, closer to home Danny Ings damaged his knee at Aston Villa very late in the game making a challenge with his team 4-1 up and in an area of the pitch he didn't need to at that stage of the game, it wasn't a tackle however that did for Ings but his leg getting caught under him.
A friend of mine has for some time been on at me of his concern that given his injury record Danny Ings should be used sparingly, he had said so the very day before the game, insisting that if Saints were winning the game and well in control, or for that matter losing it with no chance of getting back into it, then why risk an injury to your most important player, sadly his words came true.
I am loathe to criticise Ralph Hasenhuttl, the man has been a breath of fresh air to this football club and has the potential to be our greatest ever manager and I do not say that lightly, but his use of substitutions this season has been sparse and therefore risking injury not just to Danny Ings but the rest of the squad.
Ralph likes to use a condensed squad, partly through necessity, ie a team of Saints side can't have 25 internationals ala Man City and partly through the fact that he likes to weld his side into a tight outfit.
But it means he needs to use his substitute bench more liberally and perhaps more thoughtfully.
If we look at the 8 Premier League games so far distinct pattern emerges, in half of the games we have used only two subs and in the games where we have used all three it appears to be a pattern of an early sub, indeed two have been made at half time(I injury & 1 tactical) a substitution with 10-15 minutes to go and then a sub in the final 5 minutes of the game.
This season Saints have made 20 substitutions out of possible 24 available.
4 have been down to injury
I take the point that sometimes the situation dictates when & why you make these subs, but it is invariably the games where the situation has not dictated when the issues happen.
My friend had expressed his concerns about why Ings had been left on against Everton, in that game when they went down to 10 men with 20 minutes left, we didn't make a change till the 86th minute and then another in the 89th minute, we didn't make a third.
He reasoned what was the point at that stage in risking Ings, the job was done, rest him and keep him fresh for the next game.
It was a similar situation at Villa, we were 4-1 up, yes we had had two injuries, but Shane Long should have been on for Ings with at least 10 minutes to go.
Yes Ings is a very important player for us, but we are far from a one man team as we showed against Newcastle, in both games we needed to rest players once the game was won, not just the likes of Ings, but to give players a rest, we have had several hamstring injuries of late, that is down to fatigue.
At Villa the Bertrand & Ings went off injured in the final 10 minutes, whilst we could not have predicted either injury, we certainly should have used a second sub by the 75th minute given we were 4-1 up at the time.
But we also need to be giving those who are not starting at the moment game time, we have to keep the fresh and match ready, the youngsters need a little more than 5 minutes here and there.
It is a squad game, this is a different season than normal and a little more condensed, but it is not that much more that it needs 5 subs, it merely means that we need to ensure that we use the 3 changes we have in the right way.
As I said I am loathe to criticise Ralph Hasenhuttl, but we need to make sure that players that are most important to us and cannot be easily replaced are used properly, the backroom staff on the bench should be pointing this out to him, at Villa taking Bertrand off was not an obvious option we didn't have another right back on the bench, but giving Ings a rest was, injury risk aside we don't want him burning himself out.
So there is a lesson to be learned not just by Saints but all football clubs, the nature of the game these days is that injuries seem to be more prevalent that a decade or two ago, some are unpreventable, but others are, not just with careful substitutions but by resting players when there is the chance.
It is a fine line, no football fan likes to see their manager put out a weakened side, even if it is just a youngster in to give an established player a rest , but that fine balance has to be struck if we are to avoid injury crisis's, in some positions we can take the strain, but in others we can't.
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