Head physiotherapist Craig Sedgwick and his colleague Vikki Stevens have been in constant contact with the squad during this period of isolation due to the coronavirus outbreak. He is expecting to have to wait ‘three or four weeks’ before they can return to training. Sedgwick said: “Being a physio is very hands-on so it has been really difficult and an eye-opener trying to work in this scenario. In a sense we have been very lucky because the injuries we have got are very end-stage and don’t need much treatment. But it is better if you can be there one-on-one with the players.
“We have been doing it by video calls, phones calls and texts. If we had a more serious injury or lots of acute injuries, it would be a nightmare and I would be feeling really guilty that I can’t be there with them. A lot of the surgeons and specialists we use have shut their practices and clinics. Some of them are still seeing people if it is a career-threatening injury. We have had to do that with one of the under 18s who needed surgery.
“If the players get little knocks or niggles, they will have time to recover. “They are athletes who are training so they will always be at risk of an injury. We have had a few players saying muscles are tight. They are running on roads and fields which they are not used to. We are not too concerned as long as they tell us and we can adapt their programme. If they don’t tell us, they can make the injuries worse. We have some lads who would run through a brick wall for the club but we need to make sure they are doing the right things.”
Sedgwick has come up with ‘weird and wonderful’ ideas for exercises. He said: “I saw a video on Twitter of a guy doing hamstring exercises with his wife’s handbag which was filled with heavy stuff. I can incorporate that into what we do. Especially for lads on lower salaries, they need to think outside the box because they might not have much equipment.”
Sedgwick believes, once players are allowed back to training, they will need the best part of a month before they are ready to play, but he knows there will be financial pressure to finish the season as soon as possible. He said: “You probably sensibly need three or four weeks of training before the league games start. Anything less than that, you are running the risk of an injury. That would be my choice. It would be nice for the club financially to get going again. You would hate to see anybody lose their job. It hits home when people in football are losing their jobs and you think ‘it could be you’. From that point of view, I hope we get football started sooner rather than later.”
The former Barnsley youth team player, who retrained as a physio after being released by his hometown club, has been back at Oakwell for more than a decade, working first with the academy then the first team. He said: “When I first started, footballers were completely different and they really enjoyed their breaks. But now the players don’t tend to enjoy not doing anything. They might have a week off max but then they want to train again. Our players are supposed to be having a down week this week but we have noticed a lot of them have kept doing the same work. A lot of them are bored but they would rather be bored than putting people’s lives at risk.”
Segdwick is enjoying working with Gerhard Struber, saying: “He’s a great coach and a good person, which is the main trait I like in a head coach. I like it to be someone who is approachable, you can speak to them and, if they disagree with you, they tell you there and then. Gerhard has been fantastic for that.”
Sedgwick was at Oakwell in 2013 when Barnsley came from seven points adrift to stay up, something they are trying to replicate this season which has been paused with nine games to play. He said: “It’s been done before and, if we get the chance to do it, I think we will do it again. The lads are all really positive and there is a core group that will do anything to get the three points like Cauley Woodrow and Alex Mowatt.”