Heads, shoulders, knees and toes: the cost of footballing injuries

Oliver Gill
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Theo Walcott made the 2006 England World Cup squad but after a career blighted by injury didn't make the cut for this summer's European Championships (Source: Getty)

Injuries cost English Premier League clubs over £157m in wages last year, taking the total cost over the last five years to an eye-watering £0.7bn.

Not afraid to complain about injuries, Arsene Wenger's concerns appear to be substantiated as Arsenal players were on the sidelines for a total of 1,553 days during the 2015/16 season.

However this only put them second on the list of most injured clubs according to data compiled by insurance broker JLT Specialty.

Top of the pile with a staggering 2,364 days were Newcastle United. Meanwhile, the least injured club were champions Leicester City with a meagre 192 days of injuries – perhaps supported by boss Claudio Ranieri's healthy eating regime and pizza ban.

Total number of days lost due to injury during the 2015/16 season (Source: JLT Speciality)

The total number of days lost during the season by injured players across all the Premier League clubs was 20,711 days or 56 years.

Over the last five seasons the number of injuries per team increased by 40 per cent. The team worse affected over this period was Manchester United, who shelled out £90m in wages for injured players.

Although midfielders accounted for the most number of injuries (304 in total or 43 per cent), the most injury-prone players were forwards with injury frequency per game played of 6.1 per cent.

Unlikely to be a surprise to many, the most common of the 705 injuries suffered by players last season were hamstring ailments, the diagnosis in 22 per cent of cases.

Knee injuries were the next most common complaint, with 15 per cent of all injuries – they were also the most dangerous.

The average number of games missed per knee injury was 9.5, almost double the 5.2 games missed from foot injuries. Niggly ankle issues kept players off the pitch for the least amount of time – an average of 1.6 games.

Most common injuries and average number of games missed (Source: JLT Speciality)

Duncan Fraser of JLT Speciality said:

“With reports of a further £2.3bn to £3bn worth of deals for overseas TV rights, Premier League clubs could be earning £8bn in broadcast revenues over the next three seasons.

"This fresh influx of money will undoubtedly have a knock-on effect for players when they negotiate their contracts. This is expected to increase the amount spent on injured players’ salaries, as the number of injuries per season continues to rise."

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