Former Felixstowe & Walton physio enjoying experience in Football League with Mansfield Town

Mansfield Town physio Dan Kett

Mansfield Town physio Dan Kett - Credit: Archant

The summer is a hotbed for football transfer activity, the opening of the transfer window allowing teams to strengthen their squads ahead of the new season.

League Two team Mansfield Town were one of the busier clubs in the country in the summer, the Stags bringing in 13 permanent players and letting 14 leave.

However, one signing that will have gone under the radar of most people will be that of 24-year-old Ipswich-born Dan Kett.

A former Kesgrave High School pupil, Dan is taking his first steps in professional football at Mansfield Town, having been appointed head physio by the Nottinghamshire club.

The role is a prestigious one, but a first-class honours degree in physiotherapy – plus experience working at Thurlow Nunn Premier Division outfit, Felixstowe & Walton United – has certainly stood him in good stead.

Having also gained experience working at the FA’s home of English football, St George’s Park, Kett is now travelling up and down the country on a regular basis, treating the Stags’ stars from Plymouth to Portsmouth, York to Yeovil.

And the Suffolk-born physio certainly seems to be having a positive impact at The One Call Stadium.

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Mansfield, under manager Adam Murray, are sixth in the League Two table, chasing a play-off position and facing up to a potential second round clash at Sheffield United in the FA Cup, should they overcome another League One side Oldham Athletic.

“I studied for a physiotherapy degree in Nottingham and one of the lads in the year above, Simon Murphy, had been the physio at Mansfield and now works at Leicester City,” reveals Kett.

“He got in contact with me around June time and recommended me to the manager. I always wanted to move back to the area, having been at university in Nottingham, and I went for the interview.”

Kett’s role is a big one, the welfare of the players often making the difference between a successful and unsuccessful football team come May.

“It’s a massive step up, although my role as a football physio almost came by chance through my old company (IPRS Ltd in Ipswich).

“While I was there, I managed to do some work at St George’s Park, working with the England Futsal team.

“The experience I received at Felixstowe & Walton gave me an idea what it was like working in a sporting environment.”

Kett is a busy man working full-time at The One Call Stadium and gave an insight into his role at the club in a typical week leading up to a Saturday match-day.

“You are in when the players are in,” he explained.

“They generally get Thursdays off but then I will be in seeing the injured players, so it’s a very demanding, full-on job and you can find yourself juggling five or six different things at one time.

“You get your intense periods, but you also get your periods of down time and working the matches are relatively easy provided there are no incidents of note.

“As a physio you are always working towards goals and prevention is better than cure.

“We (Mansfield medical team) do all we can to keep the players fit, and work a lot on pre-hab (a proactive approach to avoiding pain and injury, building strength and stability around the most vulnerable areas, while improving mobility, balance and joint function).

“It’s also important to ensure things don’t flare up again and you always have to be one step ahead of the game.”

On the pitch, it means anticipating what could happen in the seconds that follow and being prepared for every eventuality.

“For me, when I am working a game, I am watching where the bodies go in a goalmouth scramble rather than where the ball goes, although you can’t help but get caught up in it when your team hits the woodwork or has an effort cleared off the line,” admitted the physio.

“When you are at Fratton Park (Portsmouth) and sat on the bench in front of 16-17,000 fans, you can’t help but get caught up in it, but you have to stay focused.”

During his time at Felixstowe, Kett and colleague, Scott Egerton, were on the spot when striker Danny Smy suffered a nasty cruciate ligament injury in an FA Cup clash with Thurrock back in 2013.

Kett is currently dealing with a similar blow, suffered by Mansfield left-back Mal Benning, and admits his job is never a straightforward one.

“We have got one player at the moment who has suffered a cruciate ligament injury, although it is not as bad as first feared and we are hoping he will be back early in the new year,” said Kett. “It’s all part of the challenge and you don’t really know what is going to happen next, you can’t really plan ahead.”

Mansfield will hope to have a fully-fit squad of players as soon as possible as they look to build on a promising start to the season in League Two.

“It’s been a very positive start for us, we have a very experienced squad of players that know the league,” he said.

“We have got to keep driving on. We have had the start we wanted and have got ourselves in and around the top five or six and want to finish as high as we can and hopefully go for promotion.”