Rafa has 27 players in his first team squad this season and some of them, like Rob Elliot and Massadio Haidara, were not fit at the beginning of the season, but both players are back in full training now.
And of the 27 players Rafa said yesterday in his press conference that he has 26 fit players to choose from for the tough game at Elland Road tomorrow in front of just under 38,000 fans at a sold-out Elland Road.
The player not fit is Rolando Aarons who picked up his serious ACL knee injury on Wednesday, so at the beginning of the day all 27 first team players at Newcastle were fit.
When was the last time we could say that?
Rafa Benitez during a training session
A long long time ago.
Injuries were just one of the many problems Rafa has had to handle at Newcastle when he came in and he seems to have fixed whatever was wrong.
In the summer, he did have new 4G pitches installed to replace the old and out of date 3G technology and he explained at the time the new pitches would support the players better during their training and help reduce injuries.
In addition, he updated the gymnasium with new and more modern equipment and also hired two new physiotherapists to help try to prevent injuries and then to help in their rehabilitation once a player was injured.
But probably the major way he has cut down on injuries are the procedures he uses before training and after training to ensure the players are warmed up enough and adequate stretching exercises are done to guard against injuries.
He would use all his experience of being in coaching for over 30 years to accomplish that and whatever he has done seems to have worked and he deserves great credit for it.
In order to guard against injures this season, we now have a bigger squad than we’ve had for many seasons.
With 26 fit players – last year we often had 10 or more out injured – he has a problem of how to keep the players happy since they will get less playing time.
Eight fit players will not even make the 18 man squad for tomorrow’s game at Leeds.
There’s not been much written about the dramatic cutback in injuries this season – and it’s (even) more credit to Rafa Benitez and his expanded team.
What do you think?