So is there anyone at fault for Rangers’ long-term and frequent injury problems this season, particularly to key players?
You would never know if you read the mainstream tabloids or listened to Scottish sports radio programmes but we have had a horrendous season for injuries this year.
Celtic had an “injury crisis” the other week but only had Gordon and Griffiths missing from their strongest XI, Griffiths isn’t even a guaranteed starter.
Rangers on the other hand, at the weekend, started with our seventh-choice Captain. That would imply, not only do we have a few players injured but we have key players MIA. Leaders either by example or by organisational and in-game management, fundamental to the structure and performance of a unit.
No wonder there have been occasions where we have looked rudderless. Jason Holt, in all honesty, is our fifth choice central midfielder and he has been the previous incumbent of the armband until his suspension led to James Tavernier taking over. There surely can’t have been a period in the club’s history where so many important figures were missing from the starting line up?
Let’s have a quick look at the injured personnel and the causes:
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Lee Wallace – Hernia operation (Sportsman’s groin)
Bruno Alves – Calf/achilles (traumatic/overuse)
Kenny Miller – Hamstring (dynamic movement/age)
Jordan Rossiter – Calf/quad/hamstring (postural)
Ryan Jack – Knee (medial collateral/trauma)
Graham Dorrans – Ankle (ligament/trauma)
Ross McCrorie – Foot/ankle (previous injury not settling)
Carlos Pena – Too much Pizza
There has been a lot of grumbling amongst Rangers fans recently, particularly on social media regarding the length of time some players have been injured. Specifically, how long it has taken between initial injury to deciding that some players have needed operations. I’d like to clarify, in each case, why it has taken so long to go “under the knife”.
Rangers have been hugely unlucky this year, not just with the number of injuries but because of the type. I’d like to clarify I do not have specific access to their injury records but with press reports and press conferences you can get more detail, also the type of rehabilitation the players are undertaking gives indicators as to the injury they have.
In a previous life, I spent 11 years rehabbing military service personnel with various injuries from basic ankle sprains to amputees, so I have a bit of experience in this subject as well as a Sports Rehabilitation degree. Not to show off, just to let you know I’m not blagging it!
I’ve covered Rossiter’s complex case on a previous article and Alves/Miller are good old-fashioned muscle strains probably caused by both playing too much football for their respective ages.
Lee Wallace, it would appear, has been suffering from Sportsman’s Groin. It is a form of a hernia that on most occasions can be treated with rest and a progressive rehabilitation programme involving a lot of core, stability and balance work moving onto graded strength and cardiovascular work. When this doesn’t work then the surgical option will be taken.
Ryan Jack, as you will probably remember was stamped on (late) during the game v Motherwell at the end of December without even the award of a free kick. The position of contact looks like it has been a medial collateral ligament injury in his knee. This ligament stabilises the inside of the knee. A grade 1 or 2 sprain can be resolved without the need for surgery which is always the preferred option.
Initial treatment would be compression, rest, ice, hydrotherapy and manual, “hands-on” therapy. When the programme moves to more dynamic stability exercises this is the only point that instability will still be prevalent and indicate the necessity for surgical intervention.
Graham Dorrans had a similar type of injury in terms of the mechanism, but it was his ankle that was affected. Again, no foul, no free kick! Like Jack, he would’ve had a period of compression and rest followed by the graded return to more dynamic exercise only then discovering that surgery would have to be considered.
Ross McCrorie is a slightly different case. It is believed he chipped a bone in his foot which after the initial discomfort from the knock settled down and he could train and play pain-free. He suffered a re-occurrence in January and it was hoped he would return to pain-free levels with a period of non-impact rehabilitation. It wouldn’t surprise me if he returns in a couple of weeks with a reduced training load to be available to play then gets surgery in the summer if it hasn’t fully resolved.
With Wallace, Jack and Dorrans’ respective injuries the treatment protocol is to follow a period of non-surgical, progressive rehabilitation. To go straight to surgery would’ve been a lack of duty of care to each player. In each case, the injury was not severe enough to require immediate surgery.
There is nothing the medical team can do about this, they treat each injury as it presents and go off objective markers and the result of scans/specialist opinions, they are doing a great job with complex cases. To suggest they don’t know what they are doing and are at fault for the length of time each of the players mentioned are out for is highly disrespectful, you don’t get those jobs in football if you aren’t one of the best in the country at what you do.
Personally, I don’t think football clubs are transparent enough when it comes to injuries. Why the medical department, through the media team, couldn’t give a weekly/monthly update on what players are injured and what programmes they are following and why is beyond me. There would be less pressure on the players and manager and fans would have a clearer picture of what is going on behind the scenes.
What I do know is I’ve never known a season like this one where so many injuries have been long-term caused by tackles from opposition players that weren’t punished. It’s also unprecedented to have had about 8/9 different Captains and we aren’t even out of February yet!
The fact we are still in touch, just about, at the top of the league demonstrates that we aren’t far away. With a fully fit squad we will be genuine contenders for next season given the array of options that the manager (whoever that may be) will have. All we need to do now is make sure the refs start looking after our players a bit more and don’t let the opposition away with assault every game, aye, all the best wi that, I never was that good at telling jokes!!