Brighton & Hove Albion’s first season in the Premier League was a memorable one both on and off the field, as the club’s medical department enjoyed continued success.
The Seagulls suffered just one long-term injury during their debut season in the top flight, with midfielder Steve Sidwell the only Albion player to be side-lined for a prolonged period of time due to injury.
First team physiotherapist Adam Johnson talks us through the campaign from the medical and performance team’s perspective…
What’s been your overall assessment of the campaign from your department’s point of view?
“The season as a whole has been a successful one - our main goal is to keep players out on the pitch and available for the manager and we’ve had a low injury rate – that’s been reflected in the Football Association’s nomination of ourselves in the Medical and Performance Team Award in the Premier League.
“That’s really pleasing for us because we won the award when we were in the Championship and so it’s an indication that we’ve carried on our good work as a department.”
Only one long-term injury this term with Steve Sidwell – what’s been the key to that because that’s one of the best records in the division?
“In terms of numbers of injuries and days off for players we’re right at the top of the charts for the division, I think it’s down to a lot of things.
“We have a good working relationship as a department as a whole, and together we compliment one another’s work with what we do.
“We have people on the treatment side that provide exactly what the players need as well, and then the rehab work that the department does is also vital – it’s not just that we’ve been successful in preventing injuries, it’s also to do with the fact that if we do get players who are side-lined we have the right people in place to make sure they’re back out on the pitch as quickly as possible.”
The side ran the equivalent of 22,884km last season, sprinted 42.5km, spent 4,360 hours training and performed 900 injury prevention sessions – how do you reflect on those numbers as a department?
“I think there’s still some things we’d like to improve on, because you can never say you’re completely perfect. I think the distance sprinted could be somewhere where we might look to improve, but then you also have to take into consideration the tactics of the team as well.
“It’s about making sure we can repeat it and achieve good outputs, for us it’s about seeing that a player can come into the side and replace somebody and still meet the levels set before them, that’s something we’ve noticed this season and so that’s really satisfying for us.”
What have been the biggest changes since being in the Premier League?
“We now have the ability to have more time with the players between matches. We’ve gone from having a lot of two game weeks based on recovery to now having time to develop players.
“We’ve had a lot more contact in the gym with players and we’ve also had a lot more time to do the activation sessions with them, as well as injury prevention work that perhaps we didn’t have last year.”
What is the challenge for the department going into next season?
“I think the challenge for us is to keep the injury rates the same, but we know that will be difficult, so we have to develop what we do.
“You also have to factor in things like new players coming into the club, and they’ll have varying backgrounds and cultures, so it’s about finding what works for new faces within the group individually and the team as a whole.
“For us it’s about making sure we don’t think we’ve cracked it and we keep pushing ourselves both individually and as a group.”