Jurgen, look away now! Winter World Cup in Qatar set to trigger injury nightmare as Premier League clubs are warned over the impact the endless schedule is going to have on their players
- Premier League clubs have been warned to prepare for another injury-hit year
- Medical experts have said that the jam-packed campaign will increase injuries
- Research showed England players who appeared at last summer’s major tournament saw a dramatic reduction in minutes this season
- Some clubs have asked players to report for pre-season duty by June 27
- Click here for all the latest World Cup 2022 news and updates
Premier League clubs have been warned to prepare for another season of injury chaos with the World Cup set to put players at even greater risk.
Experts believe the jam-packed campaign, with a shortened pre-season and a World Cup in Qatar, will create ‘a perfect storm’ for players to suffer increased injuries.
Research by Premier Injuries showed many of England’s outfield players who featured at Euro 2020 suffered a substantial drop in Premier League minutes last season due to either rotation or injury, adding to concerns for the welfare of Gareth Southgate’s squad.
Research found those players involved for England at Euro 2020 saw their minutes reduce
Stars missed more than 2,700 Premier League games between them last season as 677 injuries and absences left players on the sidelines for more than 53 years combined — a rise of almost six per cent from the previous season.
The impact on those players has continued through England’s current fixtures, cramming four games into 16 days, as Kalvin Phillips and James Justin have both suffered injuries.
To accommodate the World Cup from November 21 to December 18, the Premier League kicks off a week early on August 6 and then resumes on Boxing Day, eight days after the final.
Kalvin Phillips was one of those who felt the impact of a packed summer in the season that followed
Some clubs have asked players to report for pre-season training as early as June 27, just 13 days after England’s international against Hungary.
‘The research will tell you we are at risk of creating the perfect storm,’ Ben Dinnery, injury analyst at Premier Injuries told The Mail on Sunday. ‘I always use the analogy of a bucket under a dripping tap. You don’t see any issues until it gets right to the top and then it overflows and players break down.
‘The situation isn’t ideal in terms of recovery from last season, then chuck in these international fixtures that have been shoehorned in. The Premier League is brought forward by a week when these players really need to go away and recharge their batteries.
‘We could be seeing players back on the pre-season training pitch within the next three weeks. So players are arriving ahead of the new season and red flags are going off already. All of these things can come together and raise the risk of a setback or an injury.
A recent Fifpro (players’ union) survey found almost 90 per cent of players wanted to limit the number of back-to-back matches – Jurgen Klopp is particularly vocal about workloads
‘It’s obviously a worry and a concern. Managers are more aware that you cannot keep playing with the same core of players like you could do a few seasons back. There’s a lot more rotation.’
A recent Fifpro (players’ union) survey found almost 90 per cent of players wanted to limit the number of back-to-back matches, while 88 per cent of coaches believed players should not play more than 55 matches per season.
Wales and Real Madrid star Gareth Bale hit out at the ‘crazy’ fixture schedule and said it was wrong that a player like Belgium and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne could play nearly 80 games this season.
Clubs in the Champions League will also play games every week instead of the usual two or three-week intervals in order to cram in all of their group games before the World Cup.
Gareth Bale has hit out at the ‘crazy’ fixture schedule and said De Bruyne playing nearly 80 games this season is wrong
Premier Injuries examined how the Premier League minutes last season of England’s outfield players at Euro 2020 compared to their average from the previous two campaigns. Eleven of the 17 players analysed suffered drop-offs, many due to injury. The likes of Phillips, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw all missed significant portions of the season through injury.
However, the concerns are not just for those at the World Cup. Zone7 use artificial intelligence to give advice to clubs like Liverpool on managing player workload.
‘Clubs will need to apply serious thought on how best to manage those players remaining at home,’ said Rich Buchanan, Zone7 performance director.
‘They will potentially be at the greatest risk of injury due to disruptions to their normative training. We often see a spike in injury risk around international periods and the working hypothesis is related to normal training rhythm being disrupted.
‘Will clubs stick to their regular training cycles or do something completely different? Finding the right balance will be critical.’
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