Reports emanating from Goodison Park this week could well serve as the final tree shake for frustrated owners of Leighton Baines. David Moyes, in his post-match press conference following the battling comeback against Arsenal, suggested that the Toffee’s talismanic left-back had sustained a hamstring injury…
“I think Leighton Baines has got a bit of a hamstring injury. He felt it in the game and he played on for the last 10 or 15 minutes.”
Taking a look at the first 30 minutes of the second half in isolation, we witness Baines involved throughout, his marauding forays down the wing allied to a burgeoning vision and awareness established an assuredness in the versatile fullback that allowed him to orchestrate the left channel at will. The George Harrison, 70’s style ‘Movember Tash’ that Baine’s can be seen sporting, seemingly not putting him off in the slightest.
During this initial period in the half, we witness Baines moving with fluid ease and agility, performing football specific, high intensity movements that test the integrity of the hip and knee joints fully, actions that would isolate any injuries and from a physio perspective, there were no visible injury indicators.
A subsequent observational kinesthetic analysis of the final 15 minutes of the match adds further credibility to the initial assessment. Here, again, we witness the England International performing a full array of high intensity movements around the hip and knee and joints, leaping, tackling, taking corners and uni-lateral movements including accelerating and decelerating whilst changing direction. These are important indicators as they are some of the most mechanically demanding match actions and broken down form part of a battery of tests utilised to confirm match fitness.
The intensity and range of actions Baine’s exhibits in the last 15 minutes plus injury time mirrored that of the first 30 minutes, again, without reaction, impediment or abnormal gait patterns evident. Additionally, Hamstring muscles usually injure by either a forceful contraction or a direct blow and the full-back appeared to navigate the half without any significant incidents of note, indeed, David Moyes still had a substitution to use if an injury was feared.
In summary, I suspect that Baine’s felt some soreness or tightness as the match closed out, indicating a very minor muscle injury that treated immediately and nursed subsequently should well resolve within 7 days and although the Manchester City match this weekend is a possibility, it perhaps comes too soon, indicating December 9 when the Toffee’s entertain Tottenham as the most likely return date.