Shaka Ship Shape

John Green is delighted that Shaka Hislop has started the season looking so fit.
It is widely felt that he played a lot of last season while still recovering from an injury that affected his mobility and kicking and that, as a result, he wasn't always able to meet the high standards he had set himself in his previous two seasons at the club.
In the absence of David James, however, he has kept three clean sheets, though he admitted a lapse for the first goal at Middlesbrough on Saturday.
That he is fully fit, however, is not in dispute.
"It's a case of not overdoing the kicking," says John.
"We had a number of kicking related injuries with all the goalkeepers last season; Steve Bywater had a thigh strain, Craig Forrest had his groin problems, and Shaka had the hamstring.
"I don't remember keepers getting those sort of injuries before, and it was remarked upon by Frank Lampard last year.
"So we tried to reduce the amount of kicking goalkeepers were doing in their own training sessions.
"It is important to get the outfield players to do the shooting against the goalkeepers and not have them shooting for one another.
"If you consider in a game you might kick eight or ten times maximum in 90 minutes, whereas in training they might have kicked 40 or 50 times in half an hour.
"Their bodies are not used to that amount of kicking whereas outfield players are."
The change in training methods for the goalkeepers is all part of a re-evaluation of work at Chadwell Heath aimed at reducing enforced absenteeism.
"We have to look at these trends and try to reduce the number of injuries where we can," says John.
As a result of this assessment, the players will be back sooner next summer, and John adds:
"Preseason was acceptable bearing in mind the amount of time we had, and that we inherited the schedule from the previous management.
"Harry wasn't in favour of coming back too early, but I know from talking to Glenn Roeder, Paul Goddard, and John McCarthy that four weeks isn't nearly long enough - we are all in agreement.
"Next year it will be six weeks which will give us the chance not to be quite so intensive with the training, and give the players longer to recover between sessions.
"Hopefully that will mean less of the strains and sprains the club suffer from.
"We all agree players want time away from the training ground, and it is a long year.
"But I think every player would agree they would rather come back a little bit earlier and have a less intensive preseason.
"They would get the same amount of work done but over a slightly longer period."
And John reveals just how serious Hayden Foxe's situation was, even though he suffered what is generally regarded as a minor injury.
"Hayden Foxe broke a middle finger; he caught it in a bib, and the force and rotation broke it in half," says John.
"Most fractured fingers don't displace, so you can just immobilise them and they are safe to play.
"In Hayden's case it would have meant he would never have been able to make a fist or grip properly again if it had been left like that.
"It had to be manipulated and two screws put in to hold it in position."
Although now fit, he has yet to play this season; had he not suffered the freak injury which ruled him out so long, he may well have started in the first team and still be in it.
It was a cruel twist of fate for Hayden, who spent most of last season battling to get a work permit to play in England, and he was desperate to start this season on the right note.
But John says:
"The danger was if he fell on it in a competitive situation, and displaced it again with the screws in there, he could have lost the function of his hand.
"The implications of him falling were very severe and would have affected the way he lived his life. 
"No-one was more gutted than him in trying to come to terms with missing Premiership games."
In the end, the clean sheets that were being kept did not necessitate Hayden being rushed back, and John adds:
"We were looking into different hand specialists to see if a specialist splint could have been designed that the referees would allow.
"Referees are very funny about what you can wear on your hand; they always tend to think it is like a deadly weapon, but I don't think a splint can cause more danger than an elbow.
"There isn't any harder part of the body than that, or a knee, so I think it is a little bit frivolous when they object."