|West Ham: A club plagued by injuries!|
The JLT sports injury index provides a detailed analysis of the extent and impact of injuries upon Premiership clubs and their report for the 2016/7 season reveals a fact that Hammers fans are only too aware of - we are a VERY injury-prone club!
The Hammers are ranked 4th highest in the significant injuries count, with a horrific tally of 50 (behind Arsenal and Man United on 51 each, and Sunderland with 58), West Ham have the highest count for total days lost at 2,223!!!
In recent years Slaven Bilic has moved the training facility to Rush Green in an effort to reduce injuries but as our pre-season campaign demonstrates, we seem to be worse off than ever with Lanzini, Antonio, Kouyate and Reid all absent along with longstanding sicknoters Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho. As such, it seems unlikely that we will get to field our strongest matchday side as we seem to have chronic injury problems.
Thankfully, all of our new arrivals have decent previous injury records and in all honesty Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho are major factors in our injury absence rankings, but perhaps the difficulties reflect more ingrained issues? While there is nothing to suggest that our medical team is any less effective than other clubs, the increasing focus upon fielding experienced players and failure to progress our youth talent into the first team squad has resulted in our squad becoming older and older, with an associated increased issue with injuries.
The performances of our 'kids' in preseason give some cause for hope that we might see the likes of Josh Cullen, Toni Martinez, Nathan Holland, Reece Burke or Declan Rice figuring during our Premiership campaign this year but the sceptics will point to similar false dawns during previous years whereby our youngsters have all eventually gone out on loan to lower league sides. Moreover, the year-long loan of Reece Oxford to Borussia Munchengladbach serves to highlight the gap between the U23 set up and penetrating our first team squad.
While we all want to see West Ham push to the highest possible position in the Premiership, one characteristic that has always defined the much-fabled 'West Ham Way' is the club's determination to give home grown talent a chance to blossom. Our injury statistics highlight a good reason to consider the balance between experience and youth in our squad.