Liverpool & Tottenham friendlies 'a risk too far'
Written by Simon Austin — May 24, 2017
LIVERPOOL and Tottenham are taking a “risk too far” with their players by flying them thousands of miles to play friendlies this week, says the MD of one of Fifa’s medical centres of excellence.
Michael Davison, head of the Isokinetic Medical Group in London, believes the matches will be “stealing from the physical and mental bank of the players and staff ahead of a long and important season”.
Liverpool have flown for 23 hours to take on FC Sydney today, while Spurs have travelled 12 hours to Hong Kong to face Kitchee SC on Friday. Both sides departed within 48 hours of the final game of the season - and many of their players will be taking part in international qualifiers on the weekend of 10/11 June.
“Considering that many of the players will be playing international qualifiers in two weeks, it seems to be a risk too far in relation to player well-being and mental fatigue,” Davison wrote in the Telegraph.
“Two-and-a-half days of travel, halfway around the world and back, in the space of four days.
“Long-haul travel can result in both jet lag (de-synchrony between internal circadian rhythm and local day-night schedule) and travel fatigue (the effect of actual plane travel from sitting in airline environments).
“Travel-fatigue symptoms are induced by the lower oxygen levels, dry air, prolonged inactivity and disruption of sleep patterns and nutritional intake. Teams can blunt the effects of travel with a well-planned schedule, and by utilising a specially chartered plane and customised flight times.
“Flights longer than 12 to 15 hours that are east or westward, as opposed to north-south, increase the likelihood of jet lag; especially eastward travel that arrives at night time local time.
“It seems likely that Spurs will land in the late afternoon in Hong Kong, whilst Liverpool – who will leave on Monday night – will land the same day as the game. When they wake up the following morning Spurs’s players will likely find temperatures touching 30C (86F) and 80% humidity. It will therefore be a fresh challenge for Spurs’s sports science team to ensure hydration status of the players remain normal and watch out for any signs of heat stress.
“Sleep will be a key part of Spurs’s week. There should be plans in place to manage sleep times and conditions to minimise waking at inappropriate times, to try and blunt the feelings of jet lag. In contrast, Liverpool will spend more time sleeping on the plane than they will in Australia: after the game they have a commercial photo shoot before landing back in the UK on Friday evening.”