Premier League players appear to be sustaining injuries at a higher rate this season and many managers are concerned.
What is behind the increase in injuries? Which sides are particularly suffering? And what do managers want done?
Why are there more injuries this season?
According to Premier Injuries, who compile a database of injuries in the top flight, there have been 103 muscle injuries in total over the first eight matchdays of this Premier League season, a 16% increase compared to the same period last year.
The lack of a normal pre-season this year and a packed fixtures schedule are both factors behind the rise in injuries, says former Arsenal and England physio Gary Lewin.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “If you’re not fully recovered from your previous game then fatigue will set in and muscle injuries will go up, because if you have tired muscles and you load them again, they are going to break.”
There were seven weeks between the 2019-20 Premier League season ending and the 2020-21 campaign starting, compared to 12 as originally planned, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Clubs involved in European competition had fixtures during that time, while there were also international matches.
There will be no winter break this year and the campaign will be five weeks shorter than a standard season because of the late end to 2019-20 and the rescheduled European Championship, starting on 11 June.
It means there are more midweek fixtures this year and weekend games are spread across Friday to Monday because of broadcast selections.
Who are the key players out?
Liverpool: Defenders Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are expected to miss a significant part of this season after both had surgery on knee injuries.
Trent Alexander-Arnold has been ruled out of England’s upcoming fixtures with a calf injury, while the defending champions have also been without Fabinho because of a hamstring problem.
Manchester City: Striker Sergio Aguero is coming back from a leg muscle injury, while defender Nathan Ake sustained a hamstring injury five minutes into the Netherlands’ 1-1 friendly draw with Spain on Wednesday.
Manchester United: Defender Luke Shaw has been ruled out for a month with a hamstring injury.
Arsenal: Defensive midfielder Thomas Partey will miss Ghana’s upcoming international fixtures with a thigh injury.
Chelsea: Forward Christian Pulisic has started only two Premier League matches this season and pulled out of the USA squad to continue rehabilitating his hamstring injury.
Southampton: Striker Danny Ings, who has scored five goals in seven games so far, will be out for up to six weeks with a knee injury.
Leicester: Currently without defenders Caglar Soyuncu and Ricardo and midfielders Wilfred Ndidi and Daniel Amartey.