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Playing with Serious Injuries in the EPL

It’s amazing that players are allowed to play with serious injuries these days in a top-flight league in Europe. It seems like something from the dark ages, when ignorance, stubbornness, foolishness, and an idea that being tough and playing through a serious injury was part of the game.

It’s one thing to wrap up a slight cut on the head and reenter a game. Then you’re a warrior, but if you need to receive a pain killing shot in order to get out on the pitch, that’s just seems stupid.

Just this past few weeks we’ve heard about how Darren Fletcher, Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard, and Fernando Torres all having played with serious injuries, many receiving shots prior to games so they could play.

That seems very dangerous. Aren’t these players more susceptible to an even graver injury if they play injured? Doesn't masking the pain only lead to a further break down of the injury? How is it worth it to a club to let your star player play through an injury?

Really, this probably goes on more than we know. What other players are taking risks they shouldn’t by playing after receiving painkilling shots?

It like something more out of a Hollywood movie with Sylvester Stallone, rather than something going on in the EPL. Especially in today’s litigious world, how do agents and a player’s entourages stand for it?

Yet players want to play. Players don’t want to lose their places due to injury, there’s always another player right behind them who will take their spot. Players want to please the coach and fans and on one hand admirably play through pain - but at what cost.

With advances in medical technology doctors see tears, strains, breaks, and pulls via an MRI much easier than they did in the past. Doctors know the extent of an injury and when a player needs to rest rather than play. They know when players need to have surgery rather than play through an injury. Sports hernias are healed with a quick surgery and players are back in a few weeks. Knees are scoped. Ankles repaired and bones shaved down. It's all part of the game, injuries happen throughout the season.

At the same time, doctors know more and can allow players to play a bit longer since they know how much damage can be done. They are more confident in giving a player a chance to play through an injury. But is this wise?

Here are a few players who have serious injuries but are still playing:

Darren Fletcher: "A bit of bone has broken off the back of my ankle and stuck about an inch away, so every time I bend it is causing a bit of pain," he explained. "It has reached the point where striking a ball, or bending the ankle in a flexed position, or pushing off the ground, hurts. I have had an injection to clear it up for a while, but eventually it is going to need to be cleaned out."

Ashley Cole: He missed three matches before aggravating the injury in the return leg in Madrid and then required a painkilling injection before facing Manchester United on Sunday when he caused further damage.

Fernando Torres: The Liverpool forward, has traveled to Spain to see a specialist in an attempt to ascertain whether the groin injury that has troubled him for the past month requires surgery.

Steven Gerrard: Benitez stands by his decision, saying Gerrard’s injury was just bad luck. "It was not a gamble to play Gerrard. He wanted to play and had trained normally for two games,” the Spaniard said. "He was given the all-clear by the doctor, and what happened was just bad luck. He felt something wrong in his groin, and it was wise to come off."

Extra: Most recently, David Beckham had three painkilling injections before the MLS Cup final due to an ankle injury, which he said wore off after 15 minutes. He soldiered on though, and played the full 120 minutes and converted his penalty kick in the shootout, only to see his LA Galaxy team lose after Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle missed theirs

Let's just hope the coaches, doctors, and players are making the right decisions, and not risking a more serious injury just to play in one more game.


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