Long-serving Sheffield Wednesday physio warns of ‘huge increase’ in risk of injury to Owls players

A long-serving former Sheffield Wednesday physio has described the ‘nightmare’ situation Championship clubs have found themselves in, warning that players do run a hugely increased risk of injury in the coming weeks.

By Alex Miller
Thursday, 11th June 2020, 5:00 pm

Paul Smith, who was the club’s head physio from 2009 until 2017, admitted he would feel sympathy with any soon-to-be out-of-contract player who has reservations about completing the season and offered an insight into the strains the players will be under as they face the gruelling prospect of completing their final eight league matches in just 24 days.

The Wednesday squad reported for duty at Hillsborough yesterday where they are understood to have played out an 11-a-side session in front of empty terraces for the first time.

Speaking to The Star, Smith said that the club is in good hands with the combination of head of sports science Tony Strudwick and head of performance Andy Kalinins but that ultimately players and staff will be facing an uphill battle to get towards any kind of proper match fitness.

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Former Sheffield Wednesday physio Paul Smith has warned of the strain Owls players will be under as football returns.

“Players are conditioned in a normal pre-season gradually but that takes time,” Smith said. “That's where this problem lies. It's three months since our last game and they're going to have three weeks to prepare for a game against Nottingham Forest. It's very, very tough.

“For the lads that are out of contract, it's a difficult time for them. If those lads get injured in this period - and there is obviously an increased risk - and you're without a club, well, it's hard for you. I understand players concerns with that because the risk is obviously increased.

“Usually pre-season is being planned as the previous season is going on. You know where you're at, you know when the season is going to end and if you're pushing for playoffs or whatever you can change things. The thing is having six or seven weeks to work with the players, you've got your games to pre-plan months in advance.

“Players get those games to get up to speed and get their bodies ready in normal circumstances but right now it just isn't the case. There's so much pressure on the fitness staff.

“Three-and-a-half weeks or whatever just isn’t enough to be able to do all that.”

Smith now works alongside his father Alan, another former Wednesday physio, at Alan Smith Physiotherapy in Wickersley and offered an insight into the sort of training schedule the Owls will be forced into as they attempt to navigate that energy-sapping run of games.

Wednesday play four long-distance away games – Bristol City, Swansea, QPR and Fulham – in less than three weeks, meaning travel time will have to be factored into an already manic schedule.

“They'll literally just be going play-recover, play-recover,” he said. “There won't be much training going on at all I wouldn't imagine.

“They'll do the tactical side of things obviously but from a physical point of view, I can't see that they'll do much between games because there's such a big demand on them to play eight games in that space of time.”

In July next year, Paul will join former Wednesday players including Mark Crossley, Chris Kirkland and Nigel Jemson in climbing Kilimanjaro for mental health and NHS charities with newly-founded fundraising and awareness group WATCH. Details on how to donate will be made available in due course.

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