The trip to Dubai for warm-weather training should allow some of the West Ham players currently recovering from recent or niggling injuries to ease back into full-time sessions without having the pressure of a game at the end of the week.
Recovery rates can then be maximised and the sessions tailored accordingly to the individual players and their needs.
At least, that’s the view taken by Hammers’ Head of Sports Science and Medicine, Stijin Vandenbroucke. Slaven Bilić’s approach, however, is likely to be a lot more tactically focused.
Away from the prying eyes of the media the next few days will provide an opportunity for the Croatian and his staff to take a really good look at what’s making people tick at the moment; and perhaps more importantly what might be holding them back.
In terms of the latter, niggling injuries play havoc with a player’s season if it means a constant succession of stop – start- play two –miss –one scenarios as the months unfold. Despite all the advance in sports medicine in recent times, sometimes you just can’t beat a good old-fashioned period of rest; provided this is used in a constructive manner.
Footballers talk about having an ‘active rest’ which simply means that you avoid the aspects of training that lead to aggravating an injury further.
On the Dubai trip, those players carrying injuries or who have just come back from a period on the side-lines such as Álvaro Arbeloa and Arthur Masuaku for example, will reap the benefits of training sessions gradually increasing in intensity as the week goes by.
Against a backdrop of ideal training conditions; recovery rates will be enhanced by the lack of a game at the end of the week; although there’s always the potential for something to be arranged on a closed-door basis involving local opposition.
With a fitness-based emphasis throughout the week, this should allow those returning from injury to focus on regaining some of the sharpness needed for first-team football via controlled sessions. Hopefully this will also help Sam Bryan and Håvard Nordtveit – who were both on the bench for the West Brom game but weren’t called upon - together with Andy Carroll to make a more complete recovery.
In Andy’s case, the situation is more or less as described above. The niggling groin injury which he appears to have been carrying for a few weeks can be difficult to shake off; and perhaps without a match at the end of the training week he will be in a better position when the squad return to London.
It’s difficult carrying injuries like these as often the limitations don’t show unless the affected area is specifically stressed. Sometimes a player can go a whole match without being in the situation where the injury will be fully tested. On the other hand there are games where the affected muscles or tendons are immediately subjected to potential overload in the opening minutes.
he next ten days or so will give Andy a chance to iron out any proverbial creases before returning to the team; provided his injury has recovered enough to allow him to do so.
In addition to the above, another scare from last weekend’s match involved Aaron Cresswell, who was replaced by Jonathan Calleri at half-time. Aaron missed game time earlier in the season with a knee injury and in the days leading up to Saturday had been troubled by a tight hamstring.
However, there’s always the worry that injury may have affected the manager’s choice of other substitutions thereafter.
With Robert Snodgrass and Sofiane Feghouli also being subbed by Bilić as the Hammers dropped two points, any underlying injury or fitness concerns remaining after the West Brom game can be addressed in Dubai.
Unfortunately, though, the long-term injured trio of Angelo Ogbonna, Diafra Sakho, and Gökhan Töre will need to continue their recovery without being in consideration for the Watford match in ten days’ time.
As mentioned last week, some progress will have been made in terms of their recovery but sadly not to the extent where a return to play is likely in the immediate future.
For the moment, though, we just have to wait and hope there are no further injuries to add to the mix!