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The FA's Alan Hodson
"Physiologically, the demands on the players have increased over the years"
 real 28k

Thursday, 25 January, 2001, 12:04 GMT
High toll of football injuries
Michael Owen
Liverpool's Michael Owen is currently out with a hamstring injury
Professional footballers lose an average of 24 days a year through injury - a third of these happen during training.

New research in the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows that players are particularly susceptible to injury towards the end of both halves of matches and at specific points during the season.

The Football Association (FA) is now hoping to use the evidence to help pin point areas of research and where players, medics and club managers need educating.

Training injuries were found to peak in July, with match injuries reaching their height in August during the first month of competitive play.

Researchers, including some from the FA, found that this could be because players might not yet have reached their optimal levels of fitness.

And they called for changes in pre-season training and better fitness maintenance levels during the closed season.

Vital research

Alan Hodson, Head of Sports Medicine at the Football Association, said the research is vital to improve the health and playing ability of footballers.

"If players are not playing the morale of the team goes down and the performance of the team will probably go down.

"The asset of the clubs are the players.

Mr Hodson said detailed research like this will help people decide where and when to target their resources.

"If we are going to spend more money on research then we want to know where the problems are. We can start to ask questions and answer them," he said.

Mr Hodson said that at any one time 10% of a squad could be out injured and that this is costing football over 40 million a year.

Medical staff at 91 professional clubs in England looked at the number and type of injuries sustained by their players between July 1997-May 1999.


The asset of the clubs are the players

Alan Hodson

And they found over 6,000 injuries - averaging out at 1.3 per player each season.

Matches missed

Almost all 80 per cent of the injuries were severe enough to prevent players from taking part in at least one match and the average number of matches missed was as high as four.

Tackling and collision caused 40% of all injuries - with sprains and strains the most frequent type of injury.

Re-injuries accounted for 7% of all injuries and they tended to be in the same place and more severe.

The researchers found that the greatest risk of injuries during play occurred towards the end of the two 15 minute periods towards the end of both halves.

And they linked this to brain and local muscle fatigue.

They also said that a too early return to play could also be a factor.

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