With Ireland’s scrum hunched in prime real estate, middle of pitch 15 metres from the Welsh try line, Gardner signalled for a free kick. Conor Murray tossed the

How is an average work week of a professional soccer player playing in leagues like English Premier league?

Really it is all about, training, eating, hydration and mostly sleep. Here are a few articles with details.

So just how hard do professional footballers really work?

It’s deep into injury time at Goodison on Saturday and Everton’s players are relentlessly pouring forward, desperate to grab the winner in a breathless derby .

They’ve covered every blade of grass, competed for every ball, and still need to be sprinting as hard in the 96th minute as they did in the sixth.

Still, they’re professional athletes so it goes with the territory?

Maybe. But anyone who has ever kicked a ball on a Sunday morning, or legged it around a five-a-side pitch like a headless chicken (but Lionel Messi in their heads) has perhaps wondered about the fitness levels required to be a top-flight footballer.

I know I had – and five days earlier, drenched in sweat, with lungs burning and muscles aching, I had my answer.

I was at the Blues Finch Farm training ground being put through my paces by the club’s head of sports science and conditioning Steve Tashjian.

VIEW GALLERY

The American might have seemed easy-going as he greeted the bunch of sports hacks who trooped into one of the indoor training areas at the £13m complex, but he quickly displayed the task-master authority which has the Toffees in top shape.

Any hopes Steve was just going to give us desk-jockeys a gentle insight into the basics were quickly dashed when we were instructed to launch into the exact warm-up you see the players performing on the pitch before a Premier League game.

By the end of that series of stretches and light runs we were already flushed – and that was just the beginning.

The session had been organised by The Protein Works – Everton’s own bespoke sports nutrition supplier – and, just like the players, we had been handed bottles of energy-boosting pre-training drinks while we listened to Steven explain the schedule.

With a speed I normally reserve for the first pint on a Friday evening I was finishing the last drop of my potent brew, just as Steve added that it would be wise to only take a few initial sips.

Maybe that’s why I completed the first few shuttle-runs like I was being chased by a colony of wasps, but the lads who drank more sensibly also agreed it made them feel alert and ready to perform.

Steve’s methods are not simply to test the players and push them to their limits. Everything he does is designed to mimic the specific movements they need to make on the pitch, while improving their speed, agility and stamina.

We gradually built up the frequency of our sprints between cones, then he demanded we hop through a series of mini-hurdles before bursting into a run and twisting around metal dummies supposed to represent opposition players.

Then we repeatedly darted through a course of cones before receiving a pass and shooting with alternate feet into a (mercifully) unguarded goal.

If I needed any further motivation to concentrate and avoid my usually erratic pea-roller finishing, it was the sight of Duncan Ferguson in the background preparing for his coaching session with the U18s.

After half an hour we were all feeling the strain – and we hadn’t even set foot in the gym and picked up a dumb-bell yet.

The Echo’s Everton reporter Greg O’Keefe training like a Pro footballer at Everton Football Club training ground,Finch Farm,Halewood,with other journalists. Greg training in the gym.

“The players would typically carry on this part for longer,” explains Steve – but then a bit of balm for bruised egos. “They might do it on a bigger scale but it is one of our harder sessions.

“We’ll do this early in the week, maybe a Tuesday or Wednesday after the players have a day off to recover from the previous game.”

In the gym, Steve had set out a circuit of exercises to build power and strength, with other exercises more focused on balance and co-ordination.

Again though, everything we did was designed with football in mind instead of simply body-building.

“I usually work in the gym with smaller groups of players after training,” he says. “Sometimes maybe a couple of guys or maybe six.

“It’s tailored around working with them as individuals to highlight their strengths and weaknesses and use the information to improve their performance on the field.”

If Roberto Martinez asks Steve to improve the strength of a lithe, pacy winger he will work differently than if the goal is to improve the agility of a strapping, muscle-bound centre-back.

So after a series of weighted squats, press-ups while balancing our body weight using straps, and agonising sets of pull-ups it was time to cool down.

On cue, a tray of essential recovery drinks arrived, packed with protein and vitamins vital to help repair the players’ muscles after a tough session.

And this time I sipped it – content in the belief that the fitness of Everton’s players is in safe hands.

Formula gives Blues the edge

The Echo’s Everton reporter Greg O’Keefe training like a Pro footballer at Everton Football Club training ground,Finch Farm,Halewood,with other journalists. Greg(left),who was training under the guidance of Everton’s Head of Fitness & Conditioning Steve Tashjian(right).

Football has come a long way since the days of oranges at half-time and that’s firmly evident at Everton.

The Blues have become the first club in the Premier League to develop a range of bespoke sports nutrition to enhance the team’s fitness and conditioning.

Head of sport science and conditioning, Steve Tashjian, and nutritional advisor Professor Don MacLaren, have been working closely with the experts at The Protein Works over the summer to develop the very latest cutting-edge recovery formulas, tailor-made to meet the demanding needs of Roberto Martinez’s first team.

Steve said: “We are looking at every area of the club to see how we can push the boundaries further. Footballers train harder and longer than ever before, and the conditioning that they undergo at Finch Farm is pretty intense.

“One of the areas that we thought we could gain a real competitive edge was in the player’s fitness, conditioning and nutrition. With the new intensive training protocols we have put in place and the latest sports nutrition from The Protein Works, we’re confident that the players are in the best possible shape.

“Sports nutrition plays a key role in the recovery process so we have to ensure the highest quality supplements are available.

“The Protein Works are at the forefront of innovation right now and are able to provide products with bespoke formulations.

“What is even more important to us is that every product we have developed with them is chemical free. They are totally ‘clean’ products free from preservatives.

“The collaborative approach has worked really well and we now have two unique recovery drinks – one for the nutrient window after training and one for the nutrient window following a match,” he added.

Protein Works co-founder Nick Smith, said: “The whole process has been very complex and technically demanding, but Everton’s conditioning team have demanded excellence.”

Find out more at www.theproteinworks.com .

Footballers’ food: what do Premier League stars eat every day?

Footballers’ food: what do Premier League stars eat every day?

James Collins, head nutritionist at Arsenal and lead nutritionist for England at the last World Cup, tells Mark Bailey about the food that fuels Premier League footballers, from pre-match quinoa porridge to post-match sashimi

Arsenal’a Alexis Sanchez gives the thumbs up to another tasty and fuel-rich lunch Photo: GETTY IMAGES

By Mark Bailey

8:30AM BST 20 Aug 2015

Footballers don’t just eat pasta and chicken

“Lunch and dinner for a footballer tends to involve a good variety of protein and carbohydrates. We like to offer a selection of proteins to choose from, such as one red meat and one white meat, plus a vegetarian source. Turkey, beef, salmon and mackerel are good protein sources.

It’s not all about pasta and rice for carbs these days as the players get bored of them pretty quickly. We like to offer different sources of carbohydrates such as amaranth, which is popular with South American players, and farro, which the Italians and French enjoy.

A wide variety of seasonal vegetables are available, which are crucial for players’ vitamin and mineral intake.”

A quinoa and qmaranth salad  Photo: Alamy

Breakfast should have a fun or healthy twist

“Breakfast is really important for making sure players are sufficiently fuelled for a match day or heavy training day. A popular option is porridge but we like the players to try different versions like quinoa porridge or porridges made from different grains which have a lighter consistency.

We also enjoy different plays on eggs at breakfast, which might be combined in wraps or with different types of bread.”

Snacks tend to be high in protein

“Typically footballers can struggle to get enough protein. They have grown up knowing they need a carb-based diet for energy so they rarely lack carbs, but that’s not necessarily the case for protein, which is so important for muscle recovery – especially as training has become more explosive over the years.

For that reason we tend to promote high-protein snacks, such as protein flapjacks or protein mousses. The snacks tend to be made from scratch so they don’t contain lots of sugar and fat.”

Flapjacks are used as healthy snacks  Photo: Alamy

Athletes prepare their bodies for sports supplements

“Players will only use carbohydrate or caffeine gels in a match if they have practiced using them in training. We know that getting this right at half-time can have a big impact on energy levels later in the second half.

You have to train your gut to handle different products and if you don’t try them in training your body might not be used to them on match day. Players want to feel at their optimal throughout the whole game.”

Every player needs to drink different fluids to match their sweat losses

“Players drink fluids during the match which contain carbohydrates to refuel the muscles and electrolytes which are vital in helping your body absorb and retain fluid for hydration. We perform tests on players to understand their sweat losses and individualise their drinks accordingly.

This becomes even more important when you are playing in hot conditions like at the World Cup or some Champions League matches.”

  Photo: REUTERS

Post-match drinks are a lot healthier these days

“Phase one of the recovery process involves recovery drinks that contain carbohydrates, protein and ideally antioxidants to help with muscle recovery.

We like to make different juices and smoothies which are really convenient in the changing room.”

Players recover faster with sushi

“Phase two of the recovery process involves players eating from a recovery station in the changing room which features a selection of food served buffet–style. The theme is a healthy take on players’ favourite foods.

The idea is that we are encouraging players to eat in order to help the recovery process, so they get food they will enjoy. A popular buffet food is sushi with a selection of temaki or hand rolls and some sashimi as well.

At last summer’s World Cup, we had a chef with hot plates – like a kind of mobile kitchen – in the dressing room. Many other countries did the same thing to help start the recovery process with high-quality, nutrient-rich food.”

Sushi: everyone’s favourite post-game snack  Photo: Alamy

Meals undergo squad rotation too

“Menu rotation is absolutely critical in sport. Innovation is encouraged here. The chef and I work very closely to come up with new snacks and meals, using functional ingredients, which may aid performance.

We tend to run meals on a monthly rotation system as boredom sets in quickly. You won’t see the same dish on the menu twice within two weeks. That means players are always enjoying different food and automatically getting a good variety of nutrients in their diet.”

Footballers’ kitchen cupboards are full of cereals and eggs

“We encourage players to keep a selection of cereals, porridges, oats and granola in their kitchen cupboards. They can enjoy different combinations with a range of fruit yoghurts, milk or Greek yoghurt.

Eggs are another good kitchen staple because players can always cook an omelette or some scrambled eggs when they’re tired. They might have the odd biscuit or sweet snack in the evening but most of the time they’re pretty good.”

Nutritionist James Collins works with some of the country’s top footballers

James Collins sees clients at his Harley Street clinic, the Centre for Health and Human Performance, in London. For more informationvisit jamescollinsnutrition.com

Stephen Hunt: GAA players would find life tough in Premier League – Independent.ie

When I was at Reading, I lived half a mile from the training ground. Each day, I would get in my car, which was of the required status for a Premier League footballer, and drive 800 yards to the training ground.

I wasn’t being flash, I just felt I had to rest. My life was dedicated to rest and then more rest. I would never go out and when I say ‘go out’, I don’t mean a night out, I mean out. I never left the house. All I did was train and rest, train and rest.

That sense of responsibility has never left me, even if as you move on in life and have kids, you have to leave the sofa every now and then. They can’t make their own way home from school.

A couple of weeks ago, I drove from Ipswich to meet a friend at the airport hotel in Stansted. As we were leaving later that day, I said to him that I shouldn’t really have made the 45-minute journey as it was important that I rested. He knows a bit about football, but he was surprised that I would need to rest that much. It is all about rest and if you want to make it as a footballer, you have to understand that.

It’s such a mundane thing in so many ways, but I would say that more players fail to break through because they don’t understand that. Of course, some of them aren’t resting because they’re in the pub or in a nightclub, which brings in other factors. They aren’t resting and they are as far away from resting as they can be.

I see it with lads who come over from the League of Ireland and think they’ve got it made. They’re out all the time, not necessarily in the pub, but not necessarily not in it either.

I had natural talent, but I saw so many kids who were better than me and thought they were going to make it. They were picked for all the Irish teams while I struggled, in part I think because I wasn’t from Dublin. It helps to realise at an early age that there are going to be setbacks.

When I made my debut for Ireland’s under 21s, 15 minutes as a sub in Kilkenny, I came back to Crystal Palace the next day and was called into the manager’s office. I thought I was going to be congratulated, but the manager, Alan Smith, told me I could find another club.

I remember going for a long walk around the pitches that day and thinking that I didn’t want the players who I was in competition with for a place to grow in confidence because they would see me upset.

That’s the way it’s always been for me. I knew it was the survival of the fittest and I couldn’t let anything get in the way.

There were times when I was younger when it was tough. I was released by Brentford when I was 24 and I hadn’t made a penny from the game. Then I could have cut and run. I got an offer from Bradford and was going to sign a three-year contract. I arrived on a plane from Dublin and was ready to sign when I got a message from Steve Coppell, who was at Reading, and said he’d pay the same money for a one-year deal.

The Bradford chairman was waiting for me in arrivals and I walked out and told him I want to sign for Reading.

He persuaded me to come and do a medical anyway, but I knew I had to stay focused. After I did the medical, I told them I wanted to sign for Reading. Football is all about mental strength.

These days, the game has gone so fast and they have all the stats, so there is nowhere to hide.

Before Euro 2012, I was struggling with a groin injury, but I was convinced it was in my head. My wife used to watch a couple called the Speakmans on daytime TV, who dealt with phobias and anxieties and she told me about them. I headed up to see the Speakmans and spent five grand for an hour’s consultation. I don’t know if it helped, but they seemed happy.

Sunday Indo Sport

How Gareth Bale and Real Madrid sleep their way to the top

At 1pm every afternoon, the hustle and bustle of Real Madrid’s Valdebebas training ground grinds to a halt and the facility resembles a ghost town.

A silence descends over the complex for the following two hours as players and staff close their eyes and drift into a siesta before waking and resuming their day – but they’re not sleeping on the job.

The scene is a window into football’s relentless pursuit of marginal gains as clubs across Europe turn to technology, purpose-built facilities and sleep experts to recharge their multi-million pound assets and gain a competitive advantage.

You snooze, you win

Tennis great Roger Federer and basketball star LeBron James are both advocates of sleeping for upwards of 10 hours per night and research shows the performance benefits of proper rest for athletes.

A study by Stanford University sleep expert Cheri Mah showed basketball players who increased their sleep duration to those levels improved shot accuracy by 9% in tests and recorded improved sprint and reaction times.

Take recovery for granted and the risks are great. One restless night is enough to weaken the immune system and increase the risk of illness. Sleep poorly for 64 hours or more and strength and power is reduced.

At clubs such as Real Madrid every aspect of a player’s life – including sleep patterns – is monitored

Fatigue, often brought on by a number of games in a short period of time, increases levels of the hormone cortisol. This can then see the body begin to eat into its own protein stores and reduce a player’s muscle mass, heightening the risk of strains and tears.

The brain’s ability to send messages to and from different parts of the body to control movement also decreases, which impairs the sense of where limbs are positioned and the perception of strength of effort – making injuries such as ankle sprains more likely.

Helping ‘owl’ Bale overcome morning phobia

Those factors prompted Real’s sports scientist and conditioning coach, Englishman Jack Nayler, to invite elite sport sleep coach Nick Littlehales to the club in December 2013 to deliver a workshop to manager Carlo Ancelotti and his squad.

Littlehales began his work in the field prescribing specific mattress types to Gary Pallister and Ryan Giggs at Manchester United in the mid-1990s in a bid to cure their respective back and hamstring problems.

He has since gone on to work with the England football team, Team GB, 2012 Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins and a host of Premier League clubs, including Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Southampton.

Real Madrid have 81 bedrooms at their training complex for players and staff to take a siesta

At Madrid, he inspected each of the 81, five-star, fingerprint-accessed bedrooms at the club’s training complex to evaluate the ‘sleep environment’ – a term he’s coined to represent the temperature, lighting, air quality, duvet-type and mattresses inside the rooms.

After delivering his seminar to Cristiano Ronaldo and his team-mates, Littlehales was approached by Wales forward Gareth Bale, who requested a one-on-one consultation.

With Nayler and the club’s doctor also present, the former Tottenham forward went through an examination to establish his body characteristics (height, weight and any injury problems), daily routines (usual wake and sleep times), activities (types/intensity of training each day), sleep habits, chronotype (the natural time he sleeps and wakes), and formulate a sleep profile – an in-depth report covering the areas in the graphic below.

The areas above will form part of a player’s sleep profile

“Gareth had only just joined the club and he had a lot of new stuff to deal with,” Littlehales told BBC Sport. “He identifies with being an owl – he hates the mornings. He’s also got a young child, which can have an effect on sleep.”

Get caught napping

Bale’s biological clock – or circadian rhythm to give it its proper title – means he naturally falls asleep and wakes up at later times, leaving his energy levels at their lowest early in the morning, before peaking in the afternoon.

It’s a problem Littlehales has encountered with countless athletes and in a bid to combat disruption to the body’s preset patterns – which can also occur following European fixtures which finish late in the evening – he recommends naps.

One player he worked with at Manchester City told him of his routine in the aftermath of Champions League games, which would see him stay up until 4am as he struggled to get to sleep with the adrenaline from the game still in his system.

Wales and Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale ‘hates early mornings’

“He’d stay downstairs on the Xbox until the early hours. He’d fall asleep on the sofa and wake up mid-morning because he didn’t have training the following day – he was completely out of sync,” Littlehales said.

“Your body has two in-built nap times when energy levels dip – the first between 1pm and 3pm and the second between 5pm and 7pm.

“Now he just works around the kick-off. Before and after the game he has a routine. If he’s got a 7:45 kick off at home, his bed time is 2am. He gets up at 6:30 and has breakfast. If he’s still tired, he’ll have a 90-minute nap at those times and catch up with his sleep that way.”

‘Stay off your phone at bedtime’

At Southampton, no stone has been left unturned in the quest for a perfect night’s sleep. Every morning, each member of the squad uses a bespoke wellbeing app to fill in a questionnaire on their own personal tablet given to them by the club.

Players are asked to mark their quality of sleep, mood, muscle soreness and general level of fatigue out of 10. If the level of sleep is below an individual’s threshold they will begin using devices to monitor them at night.

The club’s head of sports science, Alek Gross, told BBC Sport: “We do have players who have been prescribed individual sleep kits to aid their sleep throughout the week. They’ll have a specific duvet and pillow thickness, perhaps blackout curtains that are specific to their needs.

Nick Littlehales’ top tips for a good night’s sleep

Humans sleep in five phases which repeat themselves every 90 minutes. Five cycles equates to seven-and-a-half hours which is enough for the average adult.

Begin a pre-sleep routine 90 minutes before bed – start turning off televisions, mobile phones and other electrical devices which give off bright light.

Have a shower prior to sleeping. Your body temperature will cool after coming out of the shower and ease you naturally into a state of sleep.

Turn your radiator down – a cool 16-18C is ideal.

Drink a glass of warm milk before bed. Dairy products are rich in tryptophan, which aids the production of sleep-inducing chemicals serotonin and melatonin.

“Temperature in hotel rooms is more of a problem. Ideally it needs to be 16-18 degrees. Players have their own room on trips now so we can really tailor to each individual.

“We advise the players against looking at mobile phones and television screens 90 minutes before bed – even the red light on your TV can affect your circadian rhythm and keep you awake.”

Players also have a list of prohibited foods and drinks they are warned against consuming in the evening. Caffeine and liquids high in sugar are off the menu, as are fat-laden meals, which take longer to digest and raise body temperature, which in turn slows the process of falling to sleep. All players are given a milk-based protein drink to aid recovery and induce sleepiness.

Eat, train, sleep, repeat

Attitudes towards sleep in football are changing. Manchester United installed sleep pods at the club’s Carrington training ground for players to nap in between double sessions during the summer, while Manchester City’s new £200m complex has 32 en-suite bedrooms each decorated with sleep-inducing wallpaper – a light green design with ever decreasing circles.

At Liverpool, players use various types of monitoring technology to detect movement during sleep, including wrist devices and heart-rate straps.

The club’s sports science consultant, Barry Drust, said: “We’ve adopted a lifestyle-orientated approach. It isn’t standard for all the players at Liverpool to have their sleep monitored but it does happen relatively frequently with individuals, depending on the situation.

“Football is a team sport, but it’s a team sport made up of individual athletes, so the philosophy at Liverpool is much more about trying to create individual strategies for individual players.”

In October Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers applauded Raheem Sterling’s maturity in complaining of tiredness to England boss Roy Hodgson and sitting out the 1-0 win over Estonia – it might just be a sign of things to come as players look to sleep their way to the top.

Head of medical discusses Hornets’ ‘big brother’ philosophy

Head of medical Richard Collinge discusses Hornets’ ‘big brother’ philosophy

Picture: Action Images

Watford want Premier League football. It is no secret. But it is only when you speak to Richard Collinge, the Hornets’ head of medical, that you discover the club have a “big brother philosophy” designed to help them reach the top flight.

From cookery lessons to taking new signings to the supermarket to monitoring players’ sleep patterns, hydration and nutrition. No stone is left unturned.

“Everything is done to create, as we call it, a 24/7 athlete,” Collinge said last month. “We want to know what the players are doing twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

“We want to know what their sleep patterns are like and what they are eating. If there are any social problems outside of the club then we need to know that. It is the big brother philosophy we have put in place.”

And it is a process which begins on the first day of pre-season. Every player is screened “from top to toe” according to Collinge in order to ascertain what the medical staff can do to help a player avoid injury.

“It is about detecting a small problem that could then lead to a big injury,” Collinge explained. “And during the season we have a traffic light system.

“There is the red flag group. They are the players who have played a lot of games and have trained particularly hard. We need to make sure we focus on that group.

“Then there is the amber group who will have issues that need addressing but they are not as high risk.

“Then there is the green group. They are the guys who are training well and recovering well and are giving us the thumbs up.

“Players in that group are probably not playing as much though. That may mean they need extra work. So we can’t treat everyone the same. Every player has different demands.” While Watford ensure the players receive all the help they need to perform on the pitch, the club also work hard to help new arrivals settle off it.

Since the Pozzos’ takeover in 2012, a large number of foreign players have joined the club. The likes of Juan Carlos Paredes and Miguel Layun have moved over from Ecuador and Mexico respectively and Collinge appriciates life in England can be a culture shock.

He said: “We have to make sure all the foreign players settle into life in Hertfordshire as quickly as possible.

“So how can we make that happen? Well if it is their first move away from home we can offer them cookery lessons and we can take them to the supermarket so they are buying the right products.

“It is all about integrating that player into the club and the community.”

When Collinge rejoined the Hornets in February he knew the club was significantly different to the Watford he had left in 2011.

Gone were the days of boardroom squabbles and worries over the Golden Boys’ future. That had been replaced by an ambitious foreign owner who wants his club in the Premier League.

Vicarage Road has been improved, as has the club’s London Colney training ground. But, most importantly, expectations at Watford have changed.

A mid-table finish in the Championship is no longer seen as an acceptable campaign for the Hornets.

“Things have changed an awful lot in the time I was away,” Collinge explained.

“But there were a lot of familiar faces still here when I returned. There have been lots of important improvements made but the ethos of injury prevention that was put in place during my first spell here still remains. So there is that familiarity.”

Collinge originally joined Watford in 2002 as an Academy physio. It was a role he held for three years before a promotion to first-team physio in 2005 and then four years later he became head of medical.

He worked under Ray Lewington, Aidy Boothroyd, Brendan Rodgers and Malky Mackay before following Mackay to Cardiff City in 2011.

A two-and-a-half year spell in south Wales was followed by eight months at Wigan Athletic. But when Collinge had the chance to return to Watford – and his home in Barnet – he had no hesitation.

“I had wonderful times here in my previous tenure and when the job was advertised it was a no-brainer to go for it,” he said.

“I like to think I bring more experience back with me after being promoted to the Premier League with Cardiff.

“Likewise I picked up some tips at Wigan because every club runs things differently. So it is good to bring snippets of information from those clubs to Watford because I have learnt along the way.”

Collinge’s role as head of medical is one of the most important at the club. His usual day starts at 7.45am when he arrives at London Colney to prepare for the players’ arrival.

He then discusses with his medical team who is fit to train and who needs treatment before relaying that information to the Hornets’ management team.

The players are then prepared for training through a series of warm-up exercises and massages before Collinge works with the members of the squad who are injured. Training is followed by lunch in the canteen, something Collinge described as “refuelling the players”, before an additional afternoon session of yoga, pilates or exercises in the swimming pool at nearby Sopwell House is held.

“Gone are the days that the players are only in for two hours a day,” Collinge said. “Now they have to arrive at nine o’clock in the morning and they are here until three or four o’clock in the afternoon.

“We also have appointments we take the players to away from the training ground. We want to offer as wide a service as we can. Physically and mentally we want the players in the best condition.

“We have had to educate the players over the years to understand that and the demands of the game have increased as well.

“Our challenge as a medical team is to keep injury rates as low as possible, although you will always have something like a Joel Ekstrand-type injury (the defender damaged his cruciate knee ligament during a match) that you can’t account for.”

Ekstand is unlikely to play again this year. He has undergone knee surgery and has started rehabilitation work at the club’s training ground.

It is a long road to recovery but, fortunately, Collinge says that is where the greatest advancements have been made in recent years. The Hornets have embraced that belief.

The Golden Boys fly to away fixtures, stay in hotels the night before home games and use a cryotherapy chamber to speed up their recovery the day after matches.

“As soon as the players come off the pitch their recovery starts,” Collinge explained.

“If you look at Welsh rugby they would take a portable cryotherapy unit with them to away matches and they would go from the dressing room straight into the chamber after matches.

“That is something we need to strive towards to ensure the recovery starts immediately after the game.

“It is still sensible here though. If a piece of machinery is too expensive we will be knocked back. Ultimately the infrastructure has improved here and that is down to the investment from Mr Pozzo,” he added.