United boss Paul Simpson brought us up to date with the latest from the treatment room as he starts to make his final preparations for the weekend.
“It’s a bit of a headache, and it’s not ideal, but sadly in elite sport when you’re pushing players to be fitter, stronger or quicker the downside is that they’ll break at times,” he said. “It’s about finding the balance of where you can push them to, but the sad thing with some of these injuries is that they’re really innocuous injuries.
“They’re not all muscular strains, which means it’s something you can’t legislate for or prevent. Brennan just had somebody fall on him and he ends up with an ACL.
“Taylor is one we maybe could have done things differently with, which I’ve said before. We’ve got a doubt over Ben Barclay for the weekend which came from him landing awkwardly at a set play.
“Morgan Feeney’s wasn’t something we could have stopped and we still don’t know the full extent of that, but by Friday evening we should know more.”
“Ryan Edmondson had a scan on Wednesday and we’re waiting for the report back on that one,” he added. “It’s something that’s been going on since the Workington game, he came off at half-time in that one with some soreness.
“We’ve managed it during pre-season, he has days where he feels fine and he’s fit to train, then other days where it flares up. On Tuesday he felt good but he went to close somebody down and got the ball whacked against his hip.
“That sent it into a spasm which made it really uncomfortable. I noticed it ten minutes or so before he came off, but I asked him if he was ok and he said he would run it off.
“In the end I made the decision for him to come off because I didn’t want to take any chances. I’m hoping that Ryan and Ben will be fit for the weekend, but who knows.
“With his scan, it’s a strange one, the radiologist and surgeon who we wanted to have a look are on holiday so nobody else has read it yet, so we’re still waiting for that report to come through.
“It’s a bit frustrating, we can’t quite get to the bottom of what’s causing the problem. We just need to see how he goes, what the results of the scan are and how he is tomorrow morning.
“Sadly, it’s all part and parcel of football and it’s one of those things you’ve just got to deal with. If they’re missing it tests the squad even more, and when the door closes for them it opens for somebody else.”
“Looking at the weekend, we’ve got Ben Barclay and Jayden Harris, concerns over them,” he added. “We’ll see how they are come Friday morning, but it may be that we might have to make changes. They’ve both got issues we hope aren’t going to be too serious.
“Morgan definitely won’t be available. He’s still got a medical boot on, he can’t put any weight through his foot at the moment.
“There hasn’t been any change in him since Tuesday. He has an appointment early Friday morning to see a specialist, to try and get to the bottom of it. Two radiologists have looked at the scan but it’s still inconclusive as to what exactly is the damage.
“Well, we can see what the damage is but don’t know exactly what’s the right way to treat it. Hopefully after Friday we’ll get a clear plan on how we’re going to move forward with Morgan.
“Tobi Sho-Silva won’t be able to play, Brennan won’t, Taylor won’t, Josh won’t - we’ve got quite a number who are out. We’ve just got to hope the other ones who’ve got a little bit of an issue, that they’re ready to play.
“If there’s any doubt that it’s something that could be made worse, we won’t be making them worse. We’ve got 44 games left to go in a league campaign, I’m not going to throw everything into one game and risk losing them for more time.”
And it goes without saying that the injuries to key players causes selection problems with a number ruled out for extended periods.
“It’s a really tough time for us at the moment with injuries,” he agreed. “The squad is being seriously tested on the injury front with Morgan out now, Tobi out until the end of September, Brennan Dickenson is going to have his surgery, and we’ve still got the two from last season, Josh Dixon and Joel Senior.
“If somebody said you can have your ideal scenario, then they’d all be fit and training, but that’s not how it works. I maybe wasn’t very good at this when I first became a manager, but now I don’t worry about what isn’t there or something I can’t change.
“If I could change something about training now to stop Tobi and Taylor picking up their injuries I obviously would, but it’s too late now. I don’t know whether it was our training or something with their bodies that caused it.
“If I’d have said to Morgan to not chase Freddie Sears down the line and just let him run, then I could have stopped that. It’s the same with Paul’s fitness, it’s just football, it’s what you have to deal with.
“I don’t see the point in worrying about it. I trust the staff we’ve got and the training we do, so I know we’re doing the right things. I also know that there will be times where make mistakes which we have to accept, we’re not robots.
“These things happen, we’ve just got to accept it and move on. We’ll give the players the best care we can and hope they get fit as soon as possible.
“We’ve picked up a few other things, as we’ve discussed, so the squad is getting tested to the limit. It concerns me, there’d be something wrong if it didn’t, but this is what you get in elite sport.
“When you’re pushing players and demanding them to get faster, stronger, fitter all the time, it’s inevitable you’re going to pick up injuries along the way.
“What we do, it’s not a case of blaming anyone individually. It’s about all of us looking at how we can make it better and stop the injuries. With most of them, we know they’re not injuries we could have done anything about.
“They’re just awkward landings or pushing off and feeling something. There’s a couple we’ve had to look at and see if we could have made that injury less likely to happen. We’re always going to pick up injuries, we just have to manage it as best we can.”
And it could mean that some players will find themselves employed in slightly different roles to those they’re used to.
“That is one option we have,” he commented. “I’ve got two or three different options that I’m considering, depending on how players are when they come in on Friday morning, I’ll have to decide which is the right option.
“Thankfully I’ve got a bit of time before I do that, and I may even decide to wait until Saturday to see if they settle down even more. That isn’t ideal because we won’t be able to do our final bits of preparation and our set pieces on Friday if I haven’t been able to name the side.
“I always think that’s the benefit of having a pre-season where you do all of your base prep, because I know if another centre back or another striker has to play, they know how we want to play.
“That’s the bonus of having a pre-season where we’ve done all of the work, and as we go through it’s just a case of tweaking game plans or shape to get the upper hand on the opposition.
“We saw players come in on Tuesday who slotted in. I think that shows the benefit of having a strong pre-season as well. Even for people like Omari, he missed quite a chunk of pre-season but he was involved in all of our meetings and the planning, he already had an idea of what we wanted out of him.
“Jayden showed he could adapt and step up into the team on Tuesday with very little work with the group. He had an excellent start to the game before he got tired, and hopefully there will be a hell of a lot more to come from him.
“We’ll need everybody through what is a long season, that’s why you have a squad. The good thing is that they’re all ready, which makes things a little bit easier.”
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