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West Ham United's injuries: Is it just possible that we're all over-reacting a little?

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Is the whole injury situation really as bad as it looks?

Wigan Athletic v West Ham United - The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Instead of the usual column it's tempting today just to present a list of injuries and say "Well, this is the situation........"

But that's what most sites do and we're hoping to be a little bit different in that sense!

Seriously though, a list of injuries is exactly what is needed today; since this is obviously going to affect David Moyes' thinking in preparation for the visit of Crystal Palace.

There's no doubt that if David Moyes was a light sleeper before he came to West Ham then by now he's probably well on his way to becoming a full-blown insomniac.

Take a look at the current list of players unavailable. Because joking aside, in naming his strongest team for the Palace game David has a small pool to pick from compared to the situation earlier in the season when only José Fonte and Michail Antonio were injured.

Now they’re joined by Andy Carroll, Edimilson Fernandez, Marco Arnautović, André Ayew, Manuel Lanzini and Pedro Obiang!

Wigan Athletic v West Ham United - The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

In addition to that, Winston Reid, Declan Rice and Cheikhou Kouyaté have all had issues as well over the past few weeks. Plus one or two others who’ve flitted in and out of the treatment room in the weeks gone by.

So there's your list. And it doesn't make for good reading.

But let’s go into this in a bit more depth. Starting further down the body with Mark Noble who is reported to be ready to return after sustaining a foot injury. That’s a relatively new injury compared with the length of time Michail Antonio has been out.

Foot injuries can range from anything from a deep bruising to a fractured metatarsal; recovery times can be hard to predict but in any case we are talking about a completely unavoidable injury.

Michail has suffered as we know with one thing after another this season and when that happens its hard to maintain any consistency. Once you get a succession of different injuries it seems as though every part of your body is susceptible and you never know what’s coming next.

If you then add the three players who needed surgery, José Fonte, Andy Carroll and Edimilson Fernandes; none of these were ever in contention anyway for either Wigan or Crystal Palace.

So from an injury-reporting aspect those three would be on the list of longer-term injuries that every club gets instead of being seemingly ruled out on a weekly basis.

The list in a practical sense starts with the remaining injuries. That leaves Marco Arnautović, Andrew Ayew, and Manuel Lanzini all with thigh / hamstring muscle injuries, and all of which are relatively recent and all taking the expected time you would imagine for these to recover.

The last injury, which is to Pedro Obiang, is to a knee ligament and isn’t expected to result in a quick return either. Although these injuries are common in football the recovery period varies according to the extent of the injury.

However, its early days yet for Pedro so it makes sense to wait and see what happens. He’s having a scan on this so hopefully we’ll be able to find out more once that has been reported on in depth.

So of the thirteen or so injuries quoted we’re realistically down to about four or five depending on who recovers in the next week or so and who doesn’t.

There’s been a lot of research into the incidence of injuries in football at that level and the stats would show that a club with a squad of twenty-five players would expect about fifty injuries per season - an average of two injuries per player per season (Ekstrand et al., 2011).

Of course those figures are averages taken across the board; and of the squad data provided, there will be some players who have had more than two injuries in a season while others won’t have been injured at all.

Breaking the injuries down this way makes the overall picture a lot clearer and perhaps even leads to an argument over whether there really is any definitive answer as to what actually constitutes an “injury crisis”.

West Ham United v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

However, as we said before the Wigan game, it’s not only West Ham United who are suffering with injuries at the moment, but that in itself doesn’t make things any easier.

David Gold referred to the number of injuries at the club on his twitter page before the Wigan game, emphasising that he was merely stating the facts and that the Hammers had thirteen players unavailable at that point.

The instant reaction to seeing any list of that size would be to ask why on earth are there so many injuries at the moment?

But West Ham United aren't alone in having a high number of injuries; and of course what he didn't mention was that several of the players on that list have undergone surgery.

If an injury is deemed serious enough to go to the operative stage then clearly things have to take their course in terms of post-operative rehabilitation.

While everyone wants these players back in the team asap, rushing people back just for the sake of cutting the injury list down is something that isn't going to happen.

When clubs have long injury lists - and to be fair most do at this time of year - nobody knows more than the medical teams how important it is to get players back to full fitness.

Gary Lewin and co will be pushing the rehab on as much as possible at the moment without crossing that fine line between gaining maximal progressions and taking unnecessary risks.

Reference:

Ekstrand J, Hagglund M, Walden M (2011). Injury incidence and injury patterns in professional football - the UEFA Injury Study. British Journal of Sports Medicine. Vol. 45 (7); 553 - 558.