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Medical expert agrees with Pep Guardiola that player safety should be priority

Pep Guardiola has labelled the hectic festive fixture schedule a
Pep Guardiola has labelled the hectic festive fixture schedule a "disaster" for players

Injuries to key players have prompted more debate on the merits of a packed festive programme, and a leading academic believes greater emphasis should now be placed on player safety.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola labelled the congested schedule a "disaster" for players after losing striker Gabriel Jesus to a knee injury on Sunday.

West Brom complained to the Premier League after being asked to play twice in three days, having pleaded for a postponement with Tuesday's game at West Ham coming just 51 hours after the New Year's Eve visit of Arsenal.

Leicester had only 213 hours between the start and finish of their four fixtures, and Federico Formenti - senior lecturer in human physiology at King's College, London - reckons players should be given a minimum of 48 hours' recovery time and greater consideration for their overall well-being.

"I think priority of players' safety should be taken over the amount of money they make from multiple games in a short period of time," Formenti, a trustee of The Physiological Society, told Press Association Sport.

"Perhaps it is the role of whoever is outside of the financial interests of this story to collect and analyse some statistical data on how frequently players can play without increasing the rate of injury compared with playing once a week - it is a relatively basic question which could be answered by looking at data from three or four seasons.

"I don't know the answer, but if there is a higher injury-rate with frequent games, then we should reconsider what the minimum recovery time is.

"If you compare the same period in the season for different seasons, we would have an idea of the dangers of that time of year."

However, previous studies have shown that workload and fatigue are not the only factors in injuries.

A 2004 report into injuries during FIFA tournaments and Olympic Games between 1998 to 2001 discovered an average 86 per cent of the injuries arose as a result of contact with another player and approximately half were caused by foul play.

"This study highlighted that most of the injuries happened as a result of contact, like kicking or pushing," Formenti added.

"Apart from allowing at least 48 hours for recovery, other factors must be taken into account too when trying to reduce players' injuries."

Press Association

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