Hammers to benefit from Dubai trip

With snow covering much of south east England, West Ham United may have found training at Chadwell Heath difficult this week.

Thankfully, the Hammers do not have to worry about the white stuff, having flown to a warm-weather training camp in Dubai following Sunday's Barclays Premier League fixture at Aston Villa.

While everyone connected with the club would have love to have left for the Middle East on the back of a victory, head of sports science and sports medicine Andy Rolls said the benefits of training in bright, hot sunshine would be felt over the final 12 games of the season. Rolls pointed to last season's break in the same location, which was followed by a run of one defeat in 17 matches that climaxed with victory in the npower Championship Play-Off final.

This week, West Ham's players will train twice daily in Dubai without having to worry about disruptions and distractions caused by, among other things, the weather and travel problems.

As well as the psychological positives, the Hammers will benefit physiologically by training under the bright sunshine, which contains vitamin D - a fat-soluble vitamin produced by the body after exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun. Vitamin D aids the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorous, which have various functions, especially the maintenance of healthy bones.

"Last season, the players benefitted greatly from a break and a change of scenery, getting away from the weather here and the pressure of trying to gain promotion last year," said Rolls.

"When you look back at last season, our running statistics improved - both high-intensity and total distance covered - and our results were fantastic. We lost only one of our 17 matches after a similar trip last year.

"The proof was really in the pudding last year. Our running stats showed that we were generally fitter than the opposition, as we showed in the Play-Off semi-final games against Cardiff City, when we ran all over them.

"This year, it has been the manager's strong belief that this break will have the same benefits. We will train over there quite hard - there will be some double sessions and some gym time as well as pitch time. I think we'll see the benefits again when we return.

"It's been a long season already and Christmas is always hard and we'd been back for six or seven weeks before we played our first Premier League game back in August. The players need a break and a change of scenery.

"The manager has always done trips like this in the past and the players will obviously enjoy a bit of sun. It's a change when it is cold in England. The players take vitamin D supplements when they are at home so the sun will top them up, which helps the absorption of calcium and different things into the bones and aids their general well-being, really."

Three players who have not travelled to Dubai are James Collins, George McCartney and Joey O'Brien, who stayed behind to work on their rehabilitation. Collins and McCartney are approaching comebacks from hamstring and knee injuries respectively, while O'Brien suffered a dead leg at Villa Park on Sunday. Rolls is naturally pleased to see the treatment room relatively empty at this time of year.

"We had a difficult Christmas with a lot of trauma injuries - people who had been kicked or torn ligaments. George has had an operation on his knee and is now running in straight lines and James who is soon to return to training. They have stayed behind to work on their rehabilitation to try to get back as soon as possible.

"Unfortunately, Joey had to come off with quite a nasty dead leg so he also had to stay behind for treatment, but they are our only injuries at the moment, which is great. We had a few over Christmas and it was hard but the boys have worked hard to turn it around."