DANNY MURPHY: It’s time to admit we need to return to five substitutions in the Premier League as injuries continue to rise… we are pushing players too hard
With muscular injuries on the rise, it’s time for clubs to accept the decision to limit Premier League substitutions was short-sighted and wrong.
We’ve seen an increase of 42 per cent in injuries of this type so far this season and it’s left us deprived of seeing players like Kevin De Bruyne and Jamie Vardy at different times.
Liverpool played West Ham on Saturday without Fabinho whose hamstring cried for help after playing 10 games in less than two months. For their part, the Hammers missed striker Michail Antonio. His own hamstring problem may see him out for a month. The reasons are obvious — a shorter pre-season and games coming thick and fast, particularly for those clubs in Europe.
The rise in muscular injuries shows managers are in need of being able to make five subs
Club’s voted to limit substitutions but it is seeing key players being unavailable for sides
Most European leagues and the Champions League and Europa League allow teams to make five substitutions in a game but the Premier League opposed it here and restricted the numbers to three.
The biggest losers are those paying TV subscriptions. They want to see the best players in high-intensity matches, but that requires keeping them fit. Enforcing eight of any team to play the full 90 minutes increases the risk of late damage due to muscle fatigue.
And nearly every club is affected. This week, there were concerning bulletins on David Luiz, Timothy Castagne, Seamus Coleman, Sergio Aguero and plenty of others. Gabriel Jesus has already been out for a while with a thigh problem.
Of course, hamstring and thigh strains happen in any season — but we’ve never had 78 in the first few weeks.
The congested fixture pile-up and short pre-season has ruled players like Kevin de Bruyne out
It’s not what we want and Gareth Southgate will be concerned ahead of Euro 2020. We are really pushing the players hard and any assistance, like increasing substitutions, is a no-brainer for the longer-term good.
I understand smaller clubs would see it as a disadvantage because the Big Six can fill their bench with internationals, but on the flip side they are jetting all over Europe to play in midweek as well. Burnley were able to prepare at home for yesterday’s game against Chelsea while Frank Lampard’s team travelled to Krasnodar.
Traditionalists say we are changing too much in the game. I hear that but a rule saying five changes can be made but only at three different times would minimise disruption.
VAR is making football stop-start anyway, a couple more substitutions won’t add to it. I hope the clubs reconsider and bring in a ‘Rule of Five’.
Jamie Vardy has also suffered from injuries this season due to the sheer amount of games