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David Moyes aims to keep Chelsea guessing

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But there’s still a whole host of unanswered questions

Manchester City v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

West Ham United’s preparations are well under way for the Chelsea game but a whole host of questions remain unanswered; particularly over injuries.

Chiek Kouyate is the latest West Ham United player to suffer a hamstring injury and joins Chicharito, James Collins and Winston Reid who have all suffered similar injuries in recent weeks; making this the Hammers’ most frequent injury of late.

From the group of players who are currently recovering from a hamstring injuries, Chicharito appears to have the best chance of facing Chelsea.

The two defenders seem unlikely to be included in the squad and all the reports seem to indicate that Javier’s appearance will be from the bench as opposed to being from the kick-off.

Andy Carroll is also rated as highly doubtful for the Chelsea game; and once again it will be a late decision from David Moyes about who actually starts.

West Ham United v Brighton and Hove Albion - Premier League Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

On that note, David himself has decided to adopt a keep-your-cards-close-to-the-chest approach.

Sometimes managers can give clues to the opposition with subtle comments over how injured players are responding to treatment and it doesn’t take a lot to give the proverbial game away.

Stating that people have trained all week and are raring to go is an obvious one so David’s been a bit more careful here not to say too much about who may and may not be included.

The issue though is that in footballing terms London is a small place and most of the players know each other. They also have mutual friends, their children might go to the same schools or whatever; and most of all players love to talk about their injuries.

It doesn’t take two minutes for word to get around about your opponents.

The talk in any club dressing-room is often about how someone from the other team is struggling with an injury because they bumped into him in the bistro last night!

It doesn’t help matters either when everyone in the media is desperate to get one up on on their rivals by giving out information that they maybe could have been a little more careful with for the sake of getting a headline or two.

So although David has said he is going to be careful not to say anything that is likely to backfire on him, others might not share the same view. The likelihood is that by Saturday morning Antonio Conte will have a fair idea of what United’s line-up is expected to be.

West Ham United v Leicester City - Premier League Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

As far the ongoing injury situation is concerned, we know that there is a high incidence of hamstring injuries in football and that this has been well-documented in the literature.

However, when discussing the actual risk factors for hamstring injury, conflicting evidence appears to be in abundance (Van Beijstervelt et al., 2013). Various authors have reviewed why hamstring injuries are so prevalent in football and concluded that no strong evidence exists to support any one single factor (De Visser et al., 2012).

Others suggest that our (collective) understanding of hamstring injuries in football and the recurrent injury risk is incomplete (Opar et al., 2012), and there’s been a lot of research into this area of football injuries in recent years.

Prevention of hamstring injuries is the ultimate aim of course, and various updates have enhanced our knowledge; including why certain types of hamstring injury require prolonged rehabilitation over a longer period before returning to play (Brukner, 2015).

It’s not only the academics who are concerned about this. David Moyes’ successor at Everton, Roberto Martínez (himself a qualified physiotherapist) was extremely frustrated by the number of hamstring injuries sustained during his time in charge of the Goodison Park club.

At one point the number twenty was mentioned as a running total over an eighteen month period so its obvious that this is a problem for football in general.

Perhaps David’s cautious approach will allow Gary Lewin and the West Ham medical team the time that they need to ensure that any players returning from soft-tissue injuries do so with the minimal risk of recurrence.

References:

Bruker P (2015). Hamstring injuries: prevention and treatment - an update. British Journal of Sports Medicine. Vol. 49 (19); 1241 - 1244

De Visser HM, Reijman M, Heijboer MP, Bos PK (2012). Risk factors of recurrent hamstring injuries: a systematic review. British Journal of Sports Medicine. Vol. 46 (2); 124 - 130

Opar DA, Williams MD, Shield AJ (2012). Hamstring strain injuries: Factors that lead to injury and re-injury. Sports Medicine. Vol.42; 209 – 226

Van Beijstervelt AM, van de Port IG, Verijken AJ, Backx FJ (2012). Risk factors for hamstring injuries in male soccer players: a systematic review of prospective studies. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. Vol. 23 (3); 253 – 262