When I read the match previews, I like to see that the club I’m managing has fewer players unavailable through injury than our upcoming opponents. And when I look at the injury table, I like to find that we’re near, or at, the bottom.
I try to achieve this through implementing the following policy:
- Exit any player who is identified as injury prone.
- Ditto any player whose injury record indicates that they’re injury prone.
- Avoid acquiring any players who have been identified as injury prone or who have injury records that indicate that they are.
- Prioritise retention and acquisition of players with physical qualities that might help to keep them clear from injury or to rehabilitate quickly. For example, agility and, presumably, natural fitness.
- Appoint strong backroom staff (fitness coach; physio; sport scientist).
- Manage weekly training: obviously, train for fitness where necessary (e.g., early pre-season) and avoid making excessive demands.
- Never take medical shortcuts, such as injections to enable players to play in the next match.
- Always pay when superior treatments are available. The costs are small beer.
- Manage squads to keep everyone match fit. This might require in-season friendlies.
- Resting players to enable them to get back to peak positions. During busy periods some players will, as a result, end up doing almost no training.
The implication of the above is that there will be a certain amount of squad rotation. As a result I tend to use a club’s resources to ensure we have strength in depth, rather than the best possible 1st XI.
The good news is that investment in fitness reduces the risk of an injury crisis and, therefore, the total number of players required.