Fab Flournoy has ordered a review of Newcastle Eagles’ training schedule after a flurry of muscle injuries before the festive period.
Flournoy and Paul Gause have suffered groin strains while Drew Lasker suffered a hamstring problem in the run-up to last weekend’s big game against Sheffield Sharks.
Both Flournoy and Lasker will sit out tomorrow night’s clash with Birmingham Knights, but will be fit and firing for the Eagles’ New Year programme, which includes a BBL Cup final date with Leicester Riders in mid-January.
Although far from disastrous, Flournoy has been concerned enough to consult with team doctors about possible alterations to their match-day preparations.
He said: “Both myself and Drew have been told we have less than Grade One strains so it’s really a miniscule problem at the moment for us.
“The problem is you have to take it seriously because if you go back too soon you risk doing more damage and then facing a longer spell out.
“Paul had a groin strain as well in the last few weeks and as a coach I’m not going to ignore it.
“We’re talking to our team doctors and physios and we’re looking at what we’re doing to make sure it’s not something we’re doing in training or even something we’re not doing before the sessions or during them.
“We’re keeping our eye on that because when it happens a few times you have to be alert to it.”
Last season’s campaign was ruined by a number of injuries to key men, Flournoy and Damon Huffman both facing long spells on the sidelines as Newcastle ran out of sufficient manpower to challenge Leicester’s dominance.
To this day Flournoy believes fitness problems rather than a lack of talent was behind his team ending last season without silverware.
Luckily, none of the problems are severe enough to give him similar issues going into a key January programme, but last season’s experiences have informed the player-coach.
Flournoy added: “Drew is like me, we’re probably looking at five to ten days maximum.
“I think it is unlikely we’ll play because we have a game right after Christmas against a London Lions side which looks very tough.
“We will need everyone fit and firing for that one and it is important we don’t allow ourselves to pick up injuries like we did last season.”
Flournoy’s men take on the struggling Second City outfit on Friday with momentum on their side after a swaggering defeat of Sheffield Sharks in last weekend’s BBL Cup semi-final.
That was followed by the annual tradition of a team night out, which coincides with the anniversary of the death of Flournoy’s brother Jimmy. The night has become part of Eagles’ folklore with the player-coach encouraging the players to hit the town and socialise.
Despite not being quite as reckless as in his younger days, Flournoy still enjoyed the chance to get closer to his team-mates.
He said: “It was a little bit different this year because we did it on the 18th and usually we do it on the 10th, which is the date my brother died. The funny thing is we nearly always win the game around that date.
“The one year we didn’t, against Glasgow Rocks, I don’t think I was a good guy to be around.
“It is a good chance for us all to get to know each other really but I’m not as young as I used to be.
“I used to go straight into practice afterwards and there would be balls bouncing off heads, all kind of things. I definitely couldn’t do that now.”