BY ANDREW MCSTEEN
Crystal Palace sat near-bottom of the Premier League injury table with an ageing squad under Roy Hodgson last season.
Last season, where Palace finished 14th, a total of 36 injuries were recorded by the Eagles in their 40 games in all competitions, with an average of 10 injuries per 1,000 minutes played.
This season, after 36 games, total injuries are down to just 10, with an average of 3.3 injuries per 1,000 minutes played.
The club now sits top of the injury table in terms of the fewest players missing this season due to ‘significant absence’ – injuries that have kept them out for nine or more days.
“The training changed, but having young players and a young squad, helped as well. Physically, that allows them to repeat the training and the games,” said Palace boss Patrick Vieira to the South London Press when presented with the facts.
“But the communication with the medical staff, with the doctor, has been fantastic. We put everything on the table, and we always try to make the right decision for the players.”
Those right decisions include Eagles talisman Wilfried Zaha sitting out the second of two Cote d’Ivoire friendlies last month against England when he felt something behind his hamstring.
At the time, Cote d’Ivoire boss Patrice Beaumelle told the media that he rested Zaha due to his playing schedule with the team from SE25 and that “it was not necessary to get any risk” before sending him back to the Palace training base in Beckenham for analysis from the club medical staff during the international break.
Zaha then returned to full action against Arsenal on Monday night, playing the full 90 minutes, the end of a series of events that drew praise from Vieira.
“The doctor and the medical staff here have a really good relationship with the medical staff of the international players,” said Vieira about the relationship between the club and the international teams.
“It’s part of it [all]. Always the decision is to take care of the players – the priority is the players. We talked to the French U21 [team] when Michael [Olise] was there, so it was a really clear diagnosis of his injuries, and it’s the same with the Ivory Coast.
“Those decisions allowed us to make the right decision for the players.”
BY ANDREW MCSTEEN