Chicharito spoke to the media recently about his predicted return to West Ham United’s first team and indicated that he’s not far away from re-joining the training sessions in East London.
David Moyes quickly scuppered the idea though and insisted that the Mexican striker needs a little more time before even thinking about making a comeback.
The manager applied the same thinking to both James Collins and Michail Antonio as well.
As ever, the key word used by Chicharito was “hopefully”; and it’s a word that’s been mentioned over and over again at West Ham when players talk to the media about their predicted returns and when these are likely to be.
Management, however, and particularly the medical management at the club are a lot more cautious.
They’ve every right to be. It’s why dealing in facts becomes so important where injuries are concerned.
Although James Collins and Michail Antonio will both be desperate to play and prove themselves to the new manager, they’ve been out of action for such a long time now (particularly James Collins) that they need to be careful not to let their hearts rule their heads.
Chicharito’s injury, which has been reported to be a strain of one of the hamstring muscles, would be taking too big a chance if he attempted to come back to the team at Goodison after such an injury.
Muscular strains take more time to properly recover than most people think and players have a tendency to think that if the injury feels as though it has healed then they’re ok to play.
As we all know, it’s never that simple.
This is because when dealing with damaged tissue the body doesn’t heal in a like for like manner; and the new tissue laid down as a replacement isn’t an exact substitute for the ligamentous or muscular fibres damaged by the original injury.
Although managers, coaches and players all have their own ideas about how long an injury is likely to take to heal, this is often based on precedents set by others not involved in the injury management process.
So without trying to be too clever, it’s vitally important for the medical people to give them the facts as they are at the time; backed up by science and stats if need be.
We all know how footballers and other athletes like to “defy medical opinion” by attempting to return to play well before their injuries have healed sufficiently enough to allow them to do so; but this situation can be avoided by differentiating between medical fact and personal opinion.
Thus a six-week injury is hardly going to be healed in four.
It’s great that at this vital time for the club all those who are currently unavailable through injury are bursting at the seams to get back to playing.
But as David Moyes pointed out yesterday, there is a hectic schedule ahead for West Ham United and taking the view that everything hinges on the next match would be incredibly short-sighted when what is needed is to plan ahead for the forthcoming fixtures.
There’s absolutely no harm in admitting that some players are not ready yet. The important thing is that they are making progress in the first place and if we have to wait another day or another week or two then that’s the situation.
It surely beats the alternative which is too push players back into the team before they’re ready to play; and then spend the whole game keeping one eye on them in case they suffer a relapse.
On that basis then, managing the return of James Collins, Michail Antonio and Chicharito is being done in a logical and clinical manner.
It may not please any of them at the moment; but it will be a different story if they go back into the team far too soon and undo all the work that’s been done by Gary Lewin and the others in the medical team.
And that’s not forgetting the work the players themselves have put in either!
So there’s little alternative at the moment other than to take the Everton game as it comes; and deal with the situation as it is.
For the moment at least, David Moyes is being patient. Let’s hope the results allow him the luxury of continuing to do so in the foreseeable future.