This week saw a new injury low for Daniel Sturridge. Just 3 minutes into his West Brom debut he limped off with a hamstring injury. It’s called many to further question whether these injuries are in Daniel Sturridge’s head and a result of thinking too much about previous injuries. Talk about kick a man when he’s down!
I personally find it hard to believe that anyone would happily limp off 3 minutes into their (albeit loan) debut when not really injured, let alone a top-class striker who desperately needs game time to be a consideration for the world cup finals squad.
Quite the contrary; players who have struggled with a lot of injuries often have to play at much less than 100% fit than the average player. This means there will be times when the player has to gamble and loses.
Sturridge has now been injured for 2 years straight in total and I understand that a lot of the ‘in his head’ comments will stem from fans’ frustration. Many just want to see Sturridge back playing regularly. Others from a lack of understanding, having never had serious injuries themselves. No one will be as frustrated as Daniel Sturridge himself however and to suggest that it’s all in his head is insulting.
Even if it were to be ‘all in his head’ aren’t we supposed to be a lot more tolerant and understanding of mental issues now. The way this accusation is banded about is not too far from the toughen up type of reply that was all too often the suggested remedy for those with depression.
In all likelihood the reason for Sturridge’s injuries is that one particularly bad or persistent injury like a hamstring one, will result in further injuries in other areas of the body. The body will try and compensate for any areas of weakness and this can put strain on other areas, resulting in a new injury.
Some might say just call it a day then. Admittedly, it’s not easy viewing watching players like Vincent Kompany going off injured (seemingly) nearly every time they return but surely their commitment to trying to get fit again and playing through pain should be applauded.
You can guarantee that these types of players are going through hell watching from the side-lines and performing various tedious stretching routines. The easy way out is to give up and not even attempt to make another comeback.
This week in fact saw the forced retirement of Hull midfielder Ryan Mason through a bad head injury. His decision to stop playing was on the recommendation of doctors who say he risks brain damage if he were to continue playing. It’s easy for us to not question this and really feel for Mason, and rightly so, but likewise shouldn’t we afford players like Sturridge sympathy too?
Mason himself said it’s in some ways easier for a player to accept retirement when there’s no possibility of carrying on. The decision is made for you. The constant battle of returning to fitness through other less serious injuries is arguably a more torturous journey.
The modern game is based on fitness, speed and agility more so than ever before and there are small margins between success and failure. There’s much greater risk of letting your team down and with cameras and analysis everywhere, there’s an increased risk of damaging your reputation as a player too.
I get that player power and salaries are a concern for many at the moment and why some might think Sturridge doesn’t care about playing. Players like Mahrez sulking when he doesn’t get his big move and refusing to play doesn’t help matters.
Though having played amateur football, I know how frustrating it is to miss out on that local league game that you’ve looked forward to all week as well as the hell of missing half a season or more. This feeling is almost certainly magnified when your job, your whole existence, revolves around it. The potential records, missed accolades, just being part of the team and even the appearances/goal bonuses. Trust me, players aren’t limping off lightly.