Courtois given all-clear as charity questions Chelsea injury response

Frank Dalleres
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Thibaut Courtois was withdrawn after suffering a blow to the head against Arsenal
CHELSEA have played down injuries suffered by Thibaut Courtois in Sunday’s win over Arsenal and say the goalkeeper has been given the all-clear after the club were criticised by a brain injury charity.

Headway yesterday claimed that Blues doctors should not have allowed Courtois to resume the match following a collision with Gunners forward Alexis Sanchez under new Premier League rules on possible concussions.

But Chelsea yesterday announced Courtois had been cleared to join his national team this week after tests revealed no damage, and said bleeding from his ear had been caused by “a minor cut”.

“Chelsea Football Club can confirm Thibaut Courtois went to hospital during our Premier League game against Arsenal for precautionary tests on a head injury. Those tests came back all clear,” the club said. “Thibaut was treated for a minor cut to his ear and was released from hospital last night. He is expected to report for international duty later this week.”

Courtois, who has replaced Petr Cech as Chelsea’s No1 since returning from a loan spell at Atletico Madrid in the summer, issued his own upbeat statement on Twitter. He wrote: “Thanks for all the messages! I’m already feeling better. Now I’m resting to be recovered and back on the pitch soon. Great victory yesterday.”

New rules have been introduced this season as part of a drive to give players greater protection from head injuries, amid growing awareness of the dangers in rugby and American football. Under the revised protocol any player who suffers a head injury must leave the pitch for assessment, and a club’s medical staff is entrusted with the duty of deciding whether they are fit to play on.

Chelsea doctors examined Courtois after he received an accidental blow to the right of the head from Sanchez’s hip, having rushed off his line to thwart the Chile star. He was allowed to play on but then substituted in the 23rd minute, seemingly bleeding from his right ear area, and sent to hospital to undergo further tests.

“The new rules introduced this season were designed to ensure no risks to players’ health were taken,” said Headway chief executive Peter McCabe. “They clearly state that ‘If there is any suspicion of the player having sustained a concussion, they must be removed from the field of play, and not allowed to return’.

“This incident calls into question whether these rules are working effectively. From television footage alone, it is difficult to assess the severity of any injury and the decision of the medical team assessing the player has to be respected. However, it is hard to understand how a concussion was not suspected following the sickening clash.”