City’s task is a huge one insists sports science guru

Dave Carolan was a key figure in Norwich City's sports science set up for a decade Picture: James Ba

Dave Carolan was a key figure in Norwich City's sports science set up for a decade Picture: James Bass/Archant - Credit: Evening News © 2005

Football’s coronavirus shutdown has thrown the rule book out of the window but Norwich City can still find an edge, according to City’s former head of sports science Dave Carolan.

The Canaries’ suspension was extended on Thursday to April 30, at the earliest, following another Premier League meeting with all 20 clubs in response to the global pandemic.

City’s squad had been given individual training plans, while only a skeleton staff are present at Colney.

Carolan spent 10 years with Norwich and now works with elite teams around the world – but the expert admits a prolonged break poses a huge challenge.

“This is uncharted waters and where experience comes in. If you have staff who have been around the block they can better mitigate these circumstances,” he said. “How do you manage the training load?

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“How do you manage the injured players? Fundamentally when it does restart you don’t want to be caught napping. How each club choses to attack this will be fascinating - in terms of how the league plays out.

“Will those who trained more and took time out earlier benefit, or the clubs who took time out later?

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“There are so many imponderables with no easy answers.

“What if a team had players who caught coronavirus early come out the other side of that compared to a team where no one has it and it goes through a team in May or June? Are they going to be treated as the previous team, when the league was shutdown, once symptoms became apparent?

“That is before you even get to contract issues.”

City’s top flight status and well-resourced sports science and medical teams can help insulate them during the extended break.

“This all comes down to resources, systems and processes,” he said. “In my own experience I have used immunology screening from time to time to keep on top of players’ health.

“Tracking their immune response is often going to give you an indication if they likely to be coming down with some form of illness way ahead of them being symptomatic.

“For clubs with such systems that would have given them a steer to the health of their players.

“Situations like this have happened before, not to this scale, but games cancelled due to weather or an outbreak of illness in the club and they need to do a deep cleanse.

“With those there is normally an end date when things return to normality. Now you are trying to plan for something which appears to have no firm end date.”

• Read part two of Carolan’s exclusive chat on Friday afternoon

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