As the Carling Cup Final approaches, this is the question all Tottenham Hotspur fans are asking themselves. Why is their star player Jermain Defoe out for ten weeks while their opponents Manchester United can still call on the talismanic Cristiano Ronaldo and all their other big name stars.
Of course, to sports fans, the headline Spurs Player Injured is about as surprising as Cyclist On Drugs. Spurs players are notoriously injury-prone. (When Spurs enlarge their ground capacity it's not to add additional seating but additional treatment tables.) But is it just Spurs' bad luck?
When Jermain Defoe limped out of a training session earlier this month, it didn't just sum up his club's season but, arguably, English football as a whole.
Defoe was the fifth Premier League player this season to go down with a broken metatarsal bone in the foot (the injury made famous by David Beckham). He joins on the treatment table fellow Spur Alan Hutton, former Spur Michael Carrick (are you detecting a pattern here?) plus Liverpool's Phillip Degen and the man who put the ars in metatarsal, Newcastle's Joey Barton. But none of this will surprise osteopath Don Blyth who has been monitoring metatarsals for years and, as he explains on malehealth, these injuries have nothing to do with foot shape, flimsy boots or playing too many games. It's about sedentary lifestyles and failing to toughen up the feet, especially in childhood.
Nineteen England internationals have fractured their metatarsals since 2002. No African players have. Don says: 'a disproportionate amount of English and European players are fracturing their feet compared to African players which rules out the boots, studs, pitches and number of matches which are the same for all players.'
Intriguingly, Cristiano Ronaldo was considered a likely candidate for a metatarsal injury when I last spoke to Don in the summer but so far the Manchester United and Portugal international has been spared. Why?
'Cristiano Ronaldo's feet are bearing up well, considering his lengthy lay off last summer. This suggests his feet are tougher and of a higher density, than the average Brit/European. I suspect his upbringing in Madeira may have helped, maybe playing bare foot beach soccer has hardened his feet more like an African's. Maybe he drinks a lot of milk? Maybe he does barefoot kick boxing as a hobby? Barefoot keepy uppy? All would help prevent the injuries.'
So the key to a healthy and successful football career? Play barefoot on the beach like the Brazilians. If Harry Redknapp reads this, Spurs training sessions may never be the same again.