Concussion rule under scrutiny after Sheffield United suffer double blow at Leeds United

Paul Heckingbottom said Sheffield United stuck faithfully to the protocols after two players appeared to be concussed in their 2-1 defeat against Leeds United.

Injury: George Baldock is treated during the Premier League match at Elland Road. Picture: Andrew Yates/Sportimage

The Whites were more comfortable winners than the scoreline suggested but the Blades’ concerns went beyond another defeat.

Defensive injuries are hitting them hard and although John Egan reported no ill-effects after being pushed into service probably ahead of schedule as a second-half substitute, George Baldock and Jayden Bogle went off with head injuries.

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Baldock took Tyler Roberts’s knee to his head in a 33rd-minute incident where he was actually the one lucky to escape punishment for a wild tackle, and Ezgjan Alioski’s forearm caught Bogle in the face.

Sheffield United interim manager Paul Heckingbottom. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Whilst Bogle was replaced immediately, Baldock returned to the field after lengthy checks, only to be substituted after 45 minutes complaining of blurred vision. Unlike Bogle’s, his was a concussion substitution.

Under trial measures Premier League clubs can make two extra substitutions for players who suffer concussion, with the opposition allowed additional changes to avoid abuse.

Pundits on the live broadcast and Match of the Day were critical Baldock played on, but their unhappiness was not with the Blades but the rule, arguing for more thorough assessments to be made.

“They check them on the pitch and go through the full protocols, the head injury checklist, even down to checking their neck,” explained interim manager Heckingbottom. “If they pass them, they assess them on the side of the pitch and make them walk over when they’re standing up. I’m not sure what (Baldock) did between that and struggling but he started to not feel great and he was a bit worried about his vision. As soon as anything like that is reported it’s out of your hands. Medical teams run those situations and rightly so.”

On Bogle, he added: “He took a bang and was struggling. Regardless of the changes you make, whether it’s a concussion substitute or not, he’ll be assessed in the same way.”

The protocols will determine when the pair can return to contact training. That the Blades’ next game, at home to Arsenal, is on a Sunday, could allow both to return if all goes well.

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