It didn`t take long for Roy Hodgson to experience `withdrawalitus` following his accession to the England hot seat. In the space of a few days injury ruled out Kyle Walker, voted the best right back in the Premier League, Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard, the latter two vastly experienced players. Throw in the injury doubts surrounding Danny Welbeck and Scott Parker, the Spurs man being particularly crucial to England`s tournament hopes and you don`t even have to delve into the unavailable Darren Bent, Jack Rodwell and Chris Smalling to start contemplating some malevolent spooky curse.
Actually it`s a bit more down to earth because ALL the England player have just completed a physically taxing Premier League season, some more than others of course. But it was interesting to read the thoughts of the former Wales No 2 Raymond Verheijen about the exploitation of players in this country without adequate rest time.
Based on a 10 year study the Dutchman believes that our players are overworked for commercial reasons and do not get enough time to recover.
He uses the word `periodisation` which advocates more planned rest and less intense training. As a coach Verheijen worked on the coaching staff of nations competing at three European Championships and three World Cups so his observations do carry the weight of experience. He spoke about disappointment at the quality of football served up at international tournaments and few will disagree with his view that most stars are either carrying injuries or exhausted.
The former assistant to Gary Speed says. u0093The Golden Rule of football periodisation is never play games with tired players. That leads to very high injury risk. Never compromise matches for training.u0094
Because of the demands of the most physically taxing, high-tempo, league in Europe, if not the world, those players who do make it to face France on June 11th will be drained, despite the weeks that have elapsed since the end of the league season. Maybe the only plus from that state is the overwhelming pessimism regarding England`s chances which started to drop even further as one by one the first choice players selected by Roy Hodgson pulled out. That in turn lowered expectation which has been inordinately high every time `our boys` set off for an international tournament.
So maybe England will surprise us all but it remains to be seen if a squad where Jordan Henderson replaces Frank Lampard, John Terry is preferred to Rio Ferdinand and Roy Hodgson would rather have the ineffective Stuart Downing instead of Adam Johnson can step up to the plate.