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Is Sunderland’s injury crisis a result of bad luck or bad management?

We’ve been hit by injuries to many key players during the last twelve months. Ewan Bowman looks at whether it’s simply a case of misfortune or something that we can control

Photo by Dave Howarth - CameraSport via Getty Images

Injuries are part and parcel of football and can be incredibly frustrating for managers, players and supporters alike.

However, during the last twelve months, Sunderland have suffered more than their fair share of injuries which have disrupted the squad.

Despite this, we finished sixth in the Championship last season as the squad dug deep. We played with a makeshift back four during the final weeks of the campaign and without a recognised striker in the playoff semi-final defeat to Luton.

Once the season finished, the question on many fans’ lips was: ‘If the likes of Ross Stewart, Dan Ballard and Corry Evans had been fit for the entire campaign, where would we have finished?’.

Fulham v Sunderland: Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round
Ross Stewart injured at Fulham
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

So far, 2023/2024 seems to be following a similarly frustrating trend.

At the time of writing, it’s been announced that Patrick Roberts has suffered a tight hamstring and will be back after the international break, taking the total number of injured players to eleven.

Fans have been scratching their heads as to why injuries are occurring on a regular basis, but it could be down to a number of reasons.

First and foremost, bad luck might be playing a role.

On Saturday, Roberts suffered a hamstring injury after running with the ball. The injury occurred late in the game, so early season fatigue could’ve been a factor.

Sunderland v Ipswich Town - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

We aim to play with an intensity both in and out of possession, and when the opposition have the ball at the back, we aim to press in packs.

At the weekend, Bradley Dack was leading the press with Jack Clarke, Roberts and Jobe Bellingham closing down avenues and aiming to win the ball back quickly. This philosophy has been a mainstay ever since Tony Mowbray's arrival and has been so pleasing on the eye.

Sections of the fanbase may also question the club’s choice of pre-season fixtures, particularly the games in the USA against San Antonio FC, New Mexico United & North Carolina FC.

In my opinion, playing teams like this is good for our physical fitness, as these clubs are halfway through their domestic seasons and are already up to speed.

On the other hand, playing against limited opposition, scoring goals easily and winning matches without a challenge wouldn’t be beneficial ahead of a long and gruelling season.

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Sunderland in the USA
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Could the length or intensity of training sessions be causing more injuries?

This is a question we’ll never know the answer to, but all aspects should be evaluated by the club and the medical department to try and find a solution- even if it’s assessing the quality of pitches at both the Stadium of Light and the Academy of Light.

With forty six games in the league and cup this season, we need our injured players back as quickly as possible.

When they return, I feel we can be a force to be reckoned with, and if our luck changes and we stay relatively injury-free, we can have another successful season.


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