Football League Bloggers
Kevin Davies and Guy Branston on long-term injuries and drug testing
Kevin Davies and Guy Branston blog on what it's like having a long lay-off and the pressure to stay fit.
Last Updated: 15/11/13 11:38am
As well as a weekly blog from Crystal Palace striker Kevin Phillips, we will also be speaking to three seasoned campaigners in the Football League.
New Notts County manager Shaun Derry, Preston frontman Kevin Davies and Plymouth defender Guy Branston - who all appear on Sky Sports News Radio's Football League Hour - will be chatting to us about all manner of footballing issues.
Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi were both dealt long-term injury blows this week, which could see them miss up to two months of action.
Injury lay-offs can be a lonely time and a life-changing moment for a player as footballers face the pressure of staying fit and healthy every day to provide an income.
Here, we asked our Football League bloggers about the fear of injury, time on the sidelines, and what they can and can't do to aid their recovery...
A big congratulations to Shaun who was announced as the new Notts County manager last week. We've given him a couple of weeks off from the blog to settle in.
I've been quite fortunate so far in my career that I haven't had any serious injuries. Mine have mainly been fractures rather than muscle tears or serious knee or ankle problems, so the longest I've been out for is probably six weeks when I was at Southampton with some medial damage on my ankle.
I've seen a lot of bad injuries, though, particularly during my last two seasons a Bolton. I saw Lee Chung-Yong, Stuart Holden and Mark Davies all suffer injuries that put them out for nearly a year.
We were on a pre-season game with Bolton down at Newport when Lee Chung-Yong got a really bad injury, you could see straight away that his ankle was pointing the wrong way and I went to hospital with him and he was in a hell of a lot of pain.
I stayed with him to try and support him whilst he was with the doctors because the pain was terrible and he was on morphine. It must be difficult for those players, but in the dressing room the others will make a good atmosphere around the injured players so they don't get down.
It's never nice seeing a team-mate who's playing good football go through a bad injury, it can sometimes have a bad impact on their confidence and career. But it is always good to see players like Aaron Ramsey come back from a serious injury and get back to their best.
I've never worried about getting injured when going in to tackles or anything because I think if you go in thinking you might get hurt then you probably will, because you go in half-heartedly. Most serious injuries are down to the knees and funnily enough they often say a good clean fracture will heal a lot quicker than a knee injury.
Players do a lot more now to make sure these things don't happen. In my opinion, the football clubs are run a lot more professionally than they used to be and lads will often do 45 minutes of work individually to help old injuries and they'll do tests on flexibility; there are individual plans for each player to work on in the morning which helps injury prevention. We also have recovery sessions with ice baths and massages which are all involved with injury prevention as well.
When you sign your contract I'm sure there's something in the small print that says you can't do dangerous sports like bungee-jumping or riding a motorbike. If you get caught getting injured doing something like that you won't be covered in terms of insurance.
I'm not sure how aware players are in terms of that and I've known one or two to have a motorbike here and there but in general they try and stay away from dangerous sports.
I popped my plantar fascia which is the band on the bottom of your foot which gets your Achilles and your toes to work properly. I was in excruciating pain and it felt like someone had cracked my foot open.
I was out for four months but it felt like I had a stone in my shoe for about three of those. Eventually it started to ease off but I had to constantly roll my foot with an ice bottle every night, it was a crazy injury to have and very unusual for a footballer.
I'd just signed for Rotherham on loan and I really wanted to make a go of it as I'd just left Bradford but I ended up missing some important games in my career because if I'd have gone on a good run there, I'd have probably earned a contract and it could have been a happy-ever-after scenario.
But you've got to hit the ground running when you're on loan and keep fit because unfortunately they can't afford to pay your wages if you're not playing and that's often why clubs go for loan players because they're cheaper.
It's a lonely place being injured but there was a group of us who were in the same boat and we were able to work together, but mentally it's lonely because despite it being part of the peril of being a footballer, you do think about your career and where you want to be, where you want to be playing and Rotherham was one of the teams I wanted to play for.
Every day I feel pressure to be fit. I have my own routine now even before I go out on to the training ground, I do a pre-warm-up to a warm-up and everyone looks at me but if I've not done it I feel shocking and like I'm going to pull something. Psychologically that's something I've always had to do throughout my career.
Being warm is key for me, I've done a lot of travelling on motorways and you get out the car and you're quite stiff and being a lower-leaguer you're not always in the best of cars with the most comfortable seats with five of you in the car.
When it comes to medications the sport is strict. We have to inform the drug testers where we are if we've missed work and you've got to give them a time slot for when they can pop round. This is actually what happens. I had a week off with a virus and I had to tell them every morning within a certain that I would be in my house between 9-11 even though I was going to be in bed ill all day.
Because I didn't inform the drug testers of my whereabouts once when I didn't realise I had to, I got a strike and then if you get three it's on your record. There are these bizarre rulings that they want to know your whereabouts but I don't think I've heard of anyone actually coming in and knocking on my door or anyone else, so to be honest I don't think it's enough really.
There should be more drug testing for recreational and prescriptive medicines because things like day-to-day flu relief products are banned and people take a lot of caffeine before games despite the guidelines. It's down to the fine details what you can and can't take but the clubs are great at informing you about them. You've got to be incredibly daft to get caught out.