With there having been an international break last weekend there has been a little bit of respite from the hectic schedule of the Championship for Sheffield Wednesday, which I am pretty sure has been extremely well received down at Hillsborough.
With the injury list seemingly growing on a daily basis the break hopefully allows a few of the injured players a longer recovery time to get back on the pitch and off the physio's treatment bench. Time will tell over the next few days which of them are the lucky ones to return to full training but with a number of players away with their countries no match specific training will occur until everyone is back from their travels.
Unless you are involved in representing your country, then I always found international breaks to be a bit of a strange carry on at the club. Not only do you have a number of first team players missing but there are usually youth team and under 21/23 games going on at the same time, meaning a number of players are away and so, on occasions, the place would seem quite desolate.
At times like this it is impossible to do any training towards up and coming matches, as half the squad has disappeared, and so you are left with a number of players of all ages with not a lot to do with them. Different managers I played under had very different ideas on what to do with the ‘left overs’ as such. Some would give you some time off, on occasions even a weekend off, which was, and still is, seen as a real luxury, especially when you are in the thick of the season.
Others would have you in training nearly every day, doing all manner of things as if, in some way, not wanting to give you too much time off when they knew the lads who were away would most definitely be out on their respective training pitches. I am sure most managers would admit that all they really want is for their players to return, fit and well, and ready for the forthcoming matches. Hopefully this is he case down at Hillsborough and a certain Atdhe Nuhiu will no doubt have an extra spring in his step after becoming a national hero for his goal for Kosovo.
Unfortunately this time around that won’t be happening for the Republic of Ireland and Everton full back Seamus Coleman. The tackle has had plenty of airtime this week and it did look an horrific injury, hopefully the lad will be able to return fully fit and pursue his very promising career. Major injuries like the one Coleman sustained are not only physically damaging but mentally as well. The uncertainty of your future, if you will ever return to the level of fitness you were at before?
Unfortunately injuries are some of the day-to-day worries that are part of being a professional footballer. When you are flying high and fully fit there really is no better feeling, but the depths of despair that you can fall into when you have a serious injury can be tough to tackle. You feel isolated; there are worries about your future, your career even. Remember that to get to the level of a professional footballer you have probably been on a journey of 15 to 20 years, even more in some cases. Starting as young as five or six years old, playing and learning the game, usually on a daily basis and for hour upon hour. Football is usually all you know, all you have ever dreamed about and in some way you have achieved those dreams and goals, then suddenly there is a question mark over whether you will ever do it again. You may never kick a single ball in anger again. It’s a daunting thought and one that I wouldn’t wish on any single player.
With two local derbies, both away from home, coming in the space of four days we really are getting to the ‘business end’ of the season. The prize for getting over the line and into one of those play off positions is enormous and having tasted it last year everyone wants to experience it again, only going one step further and reaching the promised land of the Premier League. It is a massive task, as I said previously, eight cup finals remaining and Saturday is when it all starts.
On a lighter note I was delighted to be involved in a charity football match last weekend in aid of St Luke's Hospice. The teams were made up of Sheffield Wednesday supporters and they were fortunate enough to play the match on Hillsborough and have a small taste of a ‘players experience’. The day was a great success but what struck me the most about the day was that the majority of the participants could not believe the size of the pitch. Virtually every one of them commented about it and I think reality dawned that it really does look a lot easier when you are sat watching!
Jon Newsome is the owner of prestige, sports and performance cars specialists, Automarques 21-23 Leigh Street, Sheffield S9 2PR