Djilobodji Knock 'Sums Up Premier League Negligence On Head Injuries'
Fox Sports have taken a second long look at the blow to the head suffered by Sunderland player, Papy Djilobodji, in yesterday's hard-fought draw with Liverpool and questioned English football's stance on head injuries.
In a hard-hitting article, the American TV channel - who air Premier League fixtures - claim that the player should have been removed from the field of play and that the incident demonstrates a lack of progress in dealing with an issue which has seen a growing body of research highlight the dangers of footballers and concussion.
The centre-back clashed with Liverpool substitute Divock Origi in the dying minutes of the game and after some treatment he appeared to be encouraged back on to his feet looking dazed and holding his head.
Everyone who was at the ground or watching on TV will recall the sequence which followed as the focus of attention swung straight back onto whether Liverpool could snatch a winner or Sunderland cling onto their well-deserved point. But that was set against a back drop of hoping the ball came nowhere near Djilobodji, as Fox Sports Senior Editor, Ryan Rosenblatt, explains:
He continued to hold his head and looked entirely out of it. Every header came with fear … anytime the ball came near him at all - you held your breath. On one routine clearance, Djilobodji kicked the ball out with his foot, then dropped to the ground and clutched his head.
Thankfully, Djilobodji made it to the end of the match without another clash of heads or anything that appeared to be exceedingly dangerous. But that’s only if you believe having him on the pitch at all wasn’t exceedingly dangerous.
Maybe scarier than Djilobodji even being on the pitch was the series of circumstances and culture that allowed it to happen
From an entertainment perspective, the Senegalese defender's struggles in the final moments may even have added to the tension but had Liverpool equalised as a result of his wooziness, the immediate reaction may have been anger from David Moyes that the match officials had not realised the extent of Djilobodji's problem. But, would that have missed the point entirely?
And therein lies the issue. Whose responsibility is it to remove a clearly concussed player from the pitch - referee, manager or doctor? The profile of how head injuries are dealt with in football has never been higher. But Rosenblatt's view, shared by many, is that there is still no proper protocol in the Premier League for dealing with them.
The rules are actually pretty clear, as FA guidance states "if there is any suspicion of the player having sustained a concussion, the player must be removed from the field of play, and not allowed to return". The attending medical person is the one to make the judgement. But yesterday, Djilobodji was allowed to carry on.
Aside from anything else - with Lamine Kone now departed to African Cup of Nations, and Jason Denayer injured, the lack of a senior centre-half (Michael Ledger has yet to make a first team appearance) on the bench yesterday highlighted a glaring gap in the Sunderland squad.
Should Sunderland have removed Papy Djilobodji from play and risked suffering the consequences of surrendering a point with just one centre-half on the pitch? Probably, dependent on medical advice at the time - but you can see the issue.
Khazri Departs - Au Revoir Or Goodbye?
Sunderland midfielder, Wahbi Khazri, was expected to land in Spain this afternoon as he joins up with the Tunisian squad for upcoming friendlies ahead of the African Cup of Nations.
Khazri will now not be available for selection in a Sunderland shirt until such point as the North African country are eliminated from the tournament. Not that it will faze David Moyes presumably. The former Bordeaux man has been little more than a bit-part feature this season, and is one of the players some are expecting to move on in the January window.
If Khazri has a starring role for his nation at ACON2017 it can only boost his value for a Sunderland club reputedly without a penny to spend in the coming weeks. The 25-year-old got a rare run out in yesterday's draw with Liverpool as a late substitute for Adnan Januzaj in the 79th minute, and he received warm applause on his introduction.
The only surprise so far - as the transfer window approached and now opened - is the lack of rumours surrounding Wahbi Khazri. To date, the only link has been in the Turkish media who have suggested he may be of interest to Fenerbahçe.
Tunisia face Uganda tomorrow and their final 23-man-squad will be unveiled shortly after.
Meanwhile, Khazri has been named on a three-man shortlist for a renowned publication's 'North African Player of the Year' award. France Football is a bi-weekly football magazine first published in 1946 and awards the annual accolade which last year was won by Riyad Mahrez.
The Sunderland midfielder joins fellow Tunisians, Aymen Abdennour of Valencia and Ali Maaloul who plays in Dubai in the public vote for the gong - the result will be announced next week.