Not only did West Ham United manage to ensure Premier League survival last Saturday by winning at Leicester City; manager David Moyes sprang a surprise with his squad selection as well.
Looking from the bench was Pedro Obiang; who was definitely NOT expected to figure in the manager’s plans for the trip to the King Power Stadium.
Until that point West Ham were expected to travel to the Midlands without any of the five players currently receiving treatment for longer term injuries - a list in which Pedro was included.
Winston Reid (knee), Sam Byram (ankle) and Michail Antonio (hamstring) were deemed unavailable; and David had actually stated on Friday morning that neither Pedro Obiang nor James Collins were ready to play.
Additionally, it had been widely reported that Chicharito had injured his knee in training and wouldn’t be involved at Leicester either.
So with Chicharito unavailable, Pedro Obiang’s surprise inclusion on the bench gave a huge boost not only to the squad but to the travelling support who hadn’t expected to see him in the warm-up.
Of the longer-term players unavailable through injury, perhaps the return of Pedro Obiang is the one that most Hammers fans have been waiting for; given the fact that Michail Antonio is out for the remainder of the season with a hamstring injury.
For weeks now we’ve heard that Pedro Obiang was not too far away from full fitness. Reports on various different sites have virtually had Pedro back in the team weeks ago; but as we all know that didn’t happen.
To finally see him involved again is a bonus; particularly at this stage of the season.
Pedro Obiang has been in the final phases of rehab following surgery to repair a sprain of the medial collateral ligament of the knee (MCL) for some time. The injury, sustained against Wigan Athletic at the end of January in an F.A. Cup match, was one that couldn’t be rushed.
But although David Moyes included Pedro in the squad last weekend, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s fully fit in footballing terms but at least he’s able to train and hopefully play from now on without any realistic fears of a recurrence.
The MCL is important to footballers as this is the structure that provides the primary stability to the knee on the inside part of the leg (Marchant et al, 2011); or the medial aspect to use the medical term. Basically, the MCL prevents excessive movement of the knee joint in an inwards or medial direction.
In conjunction with limiting knee rotation, the MCL is an important structure in terms of knee stability; joining the thigh bone (femur) to the tibia (shin bone). A sprain of the MCL is a common football injury and one which happens frequently.
Injuries to the MCL normally occur either in the tackle or by twisting the knee while running or changing direction. But perhaps the most common injury mechanism in football is when a blow to the outside part of the leg forces the knee inwardly.
Pedro was stretchered off in the game at Wigan following a sprain of the MCL and went under the knife when tests revealed that the physical damage to the ligament was such that the best way forward was via surgical repair.
With the operation reported to be successful, Pedro worked his way back to full fitness and by all accounts has been doing well for some time; hence David’s decision to include him in the squad once again.
Previous research has shown that the MCL is the most commonly injured structured in the knee (Wijdicks et al, 2010). MCL injuries usually result in an average 6 – 10 weeks absence from sport based on the recovery time for a typical Grade 2 ligamentous sprain.
However, in Pedro’s case going to surgery has added to the length of time required for his rehabilitation to be successful.
Certain injuries can take longer than an average time to heal; at least to the level required for first team football that is. You can get to 60 or 70% fit easy enough but it is that missing 30 or 40% that makes all the difference.
It’s only once this stage has passed and the knee is deemed to be strong enough again to withstand the rigours of first-team football, that any player recovering from an MCL injury will feel happy enough to return to the team.
Pedro obviously does, and it’s great to see him back. Well done to everyone involved in the rehab process and of course to Pedro himself for his patience and dedication.
Marchant MH Jnr, Tibor LM, Sekiya JK, Hardaker WT Jnr, Garrett WE Jnr, Taylor DC (2011). Management of medial-sided knee injuries, part 1; the medial collateral ligament. American Journal of Sports Medicine. Vol.39 (5); 1102 – 111
Wijdicks CA, Griffith CJ, Johansen S, Engebretsen L, LaPrade RF (2010). Injuries to the medial collateral ligament and associated structures of the knee. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery of America. Vol. 92 (5); 1266 – 1280