Is there more to Newcastle’s injury problems than just bad luck?

Injuries are generally accepted as part and parcel of the rigours of modern day football played at high octane speeds by people who push their bodies to the limit in order to succeed.

Heavy collisions, mistimed tackles and general wear and tear are where football injuries often occur, with managers often keen to develop squads with considerable depth in order to combat any knocks or long-term absentees.

Players now receive the best fitness and nutrition guidance through sports scientists who are extremely knowledgeable in not only preparing the team for the rigours of a full ninety minutes on the pitch, but also managing their physical condition and stamina throughout the week to prevent muscle and tissue injuries. However, this does not always guarantee that clubs will be able to make it through an entire season unscathed – just ask Newcastle United who appear to be cursed by continuous problems that have seen them solidify top spot on the injury table. Although the same could not be said for their current league position with many punters placing a Premier League bet with Coral on Steve McClaren’s side to be relegated, it begs a question as to whether Newcastle are genuinely unlucky with the amount of injuries they continue to pick up, or whether the problems run much deeper.

Newcastle are currently without ten players through various injuries, with Tim Krul, Cheick Tiote and Steven Taylor standing out as key absentees who have been sorely missed as the Magpies continue to battle in an effort to claw themselves away from danger. McClaren was fully aware of the injury problems that the club have endured in recent years and tried to implement changes by bringing in reputable names onto the medical staff, but although the injury table still does not make for good reading, the results are arguably subjective. Removing players who have failed to play a single minute for Newcastle this season would actually put them on par with the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal who have numerous injury concerns of their own – mainly generated through impact incidents, with the number of soft tissue injuries down to a minimum.

“Why do Newcastle have more injury problems than any other Premier League club?” is simply a million dollar question that does not have a distinct answer, but the continuous rotation of conditioning coaches would indicate that the club are trying their best to rectify the problem. It has certainly not helped their cause on the pitch, but with back-to-back victories against Liverpool and Tottenham and a crucial relegation six-pointer against Aston Villa on the horizon, things have started to look much rosier at St. James’ Park. Although Tiote and Rolando Aaarons are the only players that could make their comebacks this coming Saturday, it is about time that fans were able to ask questions like “can they hit the net in the first half?” and back their team with Coral instead of “who will be the next person to get injured?” and be without yet another key player at arguably the worst time of the season. The biggest aspect of Newcastle’s injury concerns is whether they have been cursed with serious misfortune, or whether mistakes have been made in failing to prevent avoidable injuries that could have transformed into better results on the pitch.

Dave Bellow, Alessandro Schoenmaker and Steve Black head the medical department who implement the best regimes in sports science, although they are still under the guidance of their manager who controls how much work the squad must go through; Alan Pardew and John Carver were known to give players plenty of days off to help them recover physically and psychologically, but McClaren appears to have gone a different route. It is a dilemma that faces every football manager; allowing players to rest can result in them being underworked and allow their body to become too relaxed which often leads to soft tissue and muscle strains, while overexertion on the pitch, gym or training field creates the very same problem.

Footballers know how to look after themselves in accordance with the guidance they receive through the latest sports science theories and regimes, but although players like Steven Taylor appear susceptible to numerous types of injury, Newcastle may be culpable for their own problems. Encountering so many injuries would suggest there are fundamental flaws with pre-season preparations, conditioning or post-match recovery; having three of the most highly-regarded men in sports science at the club would counter any argument that conditioning is to blame, but having four players ruled out with hamstring injuries could point towards the squad being pushed too hard. What McClaren cannot control, however, is injuries which occur when players are on international duty, with Krul’s serious knee injury picked up whilst representing Holland coming as a huge blow that may have to be rectified during the January transfer window. It is arguably one of the most frustrating aspects of football managements, but although the injury table does not look good for Newcastle at the present moment, the change in medical staff may finally see their injury woes come to an end.

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