The Impact of In-Season National Team Soccer Play on Injury and Player Availability in a Professional Club

Carling, C., McCall, A., Le Gall, F., Dupont, G.

This study investigated the impact of in-season national team duty on injury rates and player availability in a professional soccer club. Time-loss injuries and exposure time during club and national team duties were recorded prospectively over 5 seasons (2009–2014). A time-loss injury was sustained by 37.7% of squad members participating in national duty, all injuries occurring in match-play.

The incidence (per 1000 hours exposure) for national team player match-play injuries did not differ (P = 0.608) from that for all players in club competitions: 48.0 (95% CI 20.9–75.5) vs. 41.9 (95% CI 36.5–47.4), with an incidence rate ratio of 1.2 (CI: 0.8–2.4). The majority (58%) of national team injuries resulted in a layoff of 1 week or less. Of all working days lost to injury generally, 5.2% were lost through injury on national duty.

Injury incidence in the week following national duty was comparable (P = 0.818) in players participating or not: 7.8 (95% CI 3.6–12.0) vs. 7.1 (95% CI 4.6–9.6), with an incidence rate ratio of 1.1 (CI: 0.7–2.7). While approximately 40% of participating players incurred a time-loss injury on national duty, no training injuries were sustained, and injuries made up a negligible part of overall club working days lost to injury. Following duty, players had a similar injury risk to peers without national obligations.

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