Thank you for speaking to us Rob. Firstly, can you tell us about the role the medical team plays during a pre-season trip like this?
“We’re here very much as a support service, just as we are throughout the season. We’re here to support the players in whatever way it’s needed and to support the manager with implementation of what he wants to put on.
Pre-season can be a particularly strenuous time for the medical staff purely because of the extra workload the players go through. I have to say that the players have come back from the summer break in very, very good shape and that is probably due to the fact that we put on some extra training camps during the closed season which has helped them to maintain their levels. Certainly compared to what we might have seen ten or fifteen years ago, they’re in tremendous shape. You no longer have to go through the weight loss programmes that you had to back then.”
Take us through a typical day for the medical team out here.
“As well as myself, we’ve got two physios and two masseurs out here and we’ll start at around 7.30am and work through until about 10.30pm. The main job is to prepare players before training and helping them to recover afterwards.
We help the players to look after any ongoing problems or maintenance programmes that they are following as well as taking care of the more common pre-season problems like blisters or aching limbs.”
Happily, there appears to be a clean bill of health so far.
“We’ve got the full squad out training every day and that is a rarity. If you look at football in general and the statistics that come with it, you can usually look at having three members of a 25-man squad out injured at any one time.
“You do have players that need maintenance or players who have had significant injuries in the past year or who need ongoing support.
We’ve also brought in a new rehab fitness coach for the season with the aim being to reduce the number of injuries that we pick up. There’s always work to be done, even when the players are out there training.”
Finally, you were one of the first people back at work with the medicals for new signings Robert Snodgrass and Tom Ince. That must be an exciting part of your role.
“It’s great and it’s always exciting when new players are coming in. Our job in a medical is to try and identify any problems a player may have and you can do that in a variety of ways. You can check the background of a player with counterparts at other clubs and present any information to the manager and the board.
You hear of players failing medicals – they don’t fail medicals, the club makes an assessment based on lots of information. It’s always an interesting time, but we have to make sure we’re thorough in what we do because the biggest nightmare would be for a player to pull up in their first week with something that was missed in the medical.”