Royle's praise for backroom staff

WHILE Blues boss Joe Royle can curse his hard luck on the injury front, he has also praised his back-up staff in getting so many players so fit, so quickly.

WHILE Blues boss Joe Royle can curse his hard luck on the injury front, he has also praised his back-up staff in getting so many players so fit, so quickly, writes Derek Davis.

It has been bad enough losing as many as 21 players this season to the treatment room, but the majority have been down to impact injuries which have been totally unavoidable.

This week alone Fabian Wilnis is back on the casualty list after jarring his knee in the 2-0 win over Leicester City on Saturday. He joins Jason de Vos and Richard Naylor, who will miss training with knocks, while Alan Lee and Jimmy Juan are hoping to come back after injury.

They will spend time with physiotherapist Dave Williams, helped by Matt Byard, and those fit enough will join fitness coach Simon Thadani for rehabilitation work and then get a rub down by Roy Rowe before joining the first-team squad for full training.

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Thadani is also responsible for ensuring the players maintain high fitness levels working in conjunction with coaches Willie Donachie and Steve McCall.

An above-average number of injuries, especially long-term, adds to the workload although Nicky Forster and Sam Parkin may be the next ones pushing for a return to action.

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Jaime Peters has also made good progress from a knee injury and could train later in the week.

The paradox for Town is that while they have suffered a horrendous litany of injuries, they also have some of the fittest players in the game.

Using up-to-the minute technology the club is able to gauge what every play does in every game, how much distance they cover and how quickly.

Royle said: “ProZone showed that on Saturday, for example, Scott Barron, Matt Richards and Ian Westlake were producing performance figures that match Kieron Dyer's peak fitness levels.

“Our overall fitness is very high in the team and many players are coming back very quickly.

“That is largely down to the back-up staff who work with the players.

“Dave Williams, the physio, identifies which player is at what stage and send them to work with Simon Thadani.

“Simon is excellent at fitness work. He is very analytical and uses sports science to its best.

“You can see that most of the injuries are impact injuries and not down to the training schedules or work off the pitch.”

Thadani will work with Ricardo Fuller before Thursday's full training session when Royle will see if he has enough players for a full-scale practice after being so short yesterday morning.

Fuller is suspended for Saturday and Royle is still livid that he was booked in the first place.

Ironically, if Fuller had been sent off for the alleged push in the face on Joey Gudjonsson, they could have appealed, but as it was only a caution they have no recourse.

There will be little consolation either in knowing Preston have also got three players banned for Saturday after picking up fifth bookings in their loss to Reading - the last day that the five-booking penalty would have been in effect for this season.

Town's fit and ready will be included in a reserve side travelling to Southampton tonight with Adam Proudlock and Billy Clarke likely to lead the attack.

Meanwhile, Dean Bowditch has had his loan spell at Wycombe Wanderers extended by another month.

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