West Brom's Bickley appointed Head of Sport Science at Stoke
Written by Simon Austin — November 14, 2023
MATT BICKLEY is leaving West Brom after eight-and-a-half years to become Head of Sport Science at Stoke City.
Bickley joined the Baggies in June 2015 after a year at Birmingham City’s Academy and has been First Team Head of Sport Science and Conditioning for the last two years. Stoke have not had a Head of Sport Science since Paul Walsh left on the eve of pre-season after three years' service.
Walsh, who is Head of Sport Science for the Republic of Ireland Under-21s, had joined the club under previous manager Michael O’Neill, with whom he had worked for Northern Ireland.
In 2020, during Covid lockdown, Bickley completed a PhD at Liverpool John Moores University on the impact of illness in professional football. In an interview with The Athletic, he explained: “The aim of the PhD was to find out how important illness was in professional football, and when I say illness I am talking about typical respiratory illness — common colds, ear infections, sinusitis, then things like gastroenteritis and diarrhoea. The same principles can be applied to coronavirus.
“We tried to get a handle on what happens with illness, how much it happens, what type of illnesses happen and when it occurs through the season. And we wanted to get a handle on whether that was related to the physical demands of being a football player — the fatigue and associated things around that.
“The final thing was about implementing an illness-reduction strategy across four months of last season.”
Stoke, now managed by Alex Neil, are 14th in the Championship but are on a decent run of three wins and two draws from their last five games.