In praise of AVB's injury management

Michael Regan

Andre-Villas Boas has done an excellent job this year bringing injured players back into the fold.

News came out today that Jack Wilshere will miss at least a month of football. Cause of injury? Arsene Wenger.

Well ok, no, not literally but Wenger admits that he has "overplayed" the England midfielder since his return from a 17-month injury layoff. After starting twenty matches since his long spell on the sidelines, the ankle injury that kept him out for so long has flared up again. This is nothing new for Arsene, who mentioned

The last time we let him carry on and it turned into a stress fracture . . . Maybe this is a good learning process for us. Maybe after 20 games, to give him a breather of one or two games and then come back will be good.

It's understandable that Wenger would want to get his best player back on the pitch as soon as possible, but it's still surprising that after overworking this injury-prone player in the past, Arsenal are only now beginning to learn from the mistake.

I'm by no means trying to criticize Arsenal's treatment of their players, but these events have given me an appreciation for how AVB's handled similar situations at Spurs. Younes Kaboul, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Scott Parker, Emanuel Adebayor, and Mousa Dembele have all missed significant game time this season due to injury. And AVB has shown commendable patience bringing each of them back into the fold gradually.

While Jack Wilshere was thrown straight back into the starting XI from his first game back, Adebayor and Parker made their first three and five appearances respectively off the bench. It helped that we had Defoe and Sandro in form to start head of them, but even more "important" members of the squad have been treated gently by the manager.

Dembele missed a month and a half with a hip injury, at a time when his absence showed just how important he was to the team. Without him in the side, Spurs suffered their worst form of the season. Even so, AVB was patient in reintroducing him to the team. He gave him 10 minute cameos at the end of his first two games back, and waited almost a month before letting him play a full 90 minutes. Likewise, Assou-Ekotto was kept on the bench for matches against Reading, QPR, and Man United, even though his only replacements were guys playing out of position.

Younes Kaboul has been back in training for almost a month now, but has yet to feature for the side. We're all desperate to see last year's best defender return to the pitch, but I'm confident that once he finally does come back, it'll be at the right time. Thanks, AVB.

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