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Caley Thistle manager John Robertson welcomes trial of concussion substitutes

Caley Thistle boss John Robertson.
Caley Thistle boss John Robertson.

Caley Thistle manager John Robertson has welcomed the Scottish FA’s decision to trial concussion substitutes in this season’s Scottish Cup.

Earlier this month the International Football Association Board has given the approval to allow players to be substituted if they suffer a concussion or a suspected concussion.

Robertson admits he is concerned by the growing body of evidence linking a career in professional football with an increased risk of dementia.

A study by Dr Willie Stewart last year found that footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to die from dementia.

Robertson said: “It is a sensible way forward, don’t get me wrong.

“It is the hot topic in the game. I’m worried about the dementia aspect as I get older because I was knocked out easily six or seven times in my career and was playing the following week.

“It is something I do worry about, later in life, and anything that can help in that respect is welcome.

“They have it in rugby, but I think the biggest problem we’re going to have is who makes the decision?

“It puts a lot of pressure on the doctors. A player might think he feels okay and looks okay, and may pass the test, but may not be alright.

“It could be the opposite – he is fine to come back on but a doctor doesn’t want to take the risk.

“You hope it isn’t open to conjecture in the fact that some teams may get one of their players to go down.

“That’s a cynical way to look at it but, once you open up the possibility, the devil is in the detail – who is going to make the decision?

“Is it the club doctor on site, your own doctor? That leaves lots of avenues open.

“Yes, it is a good idea, but I just think we have to look a little bit more at the detail as to how we’re going to decide if a player has concussion or not.

“As I say, if left to the club doctor, it puts a lot of pressure on them.

“You’re not going to have independent doctors, neutral doctors at games. I think it is a good decision, a right decision, but how they’re actually going to implement it may be slightly harder.

“Thankfully, it is not something we have a great deal of in football. We don’t tend to have many concussion injuries over the year. It is a very low percentage.

“But anything that can help players’ health and wellbeing, is something we, as a club, would actively support.”

Caley Thistle boss John Robertson is in favour of the trial.

Caley Thistle will take on Highland League side Buckie Thistle in the second round of the Scottish Cup on January 9.

The Inverness side have a proud record in the competition, having won the trophy in 2015 and reached the semi-finals two years ago and the quarter-finals last season.

While another cup run would be financially rewarding for Caley Thistle, Robertson says the Championship side haven’t budgeted for it.

He added: “I don’t think it is any more of a financial boost than in any other season.

“We’ve had to cut our cloth to suit this year and that’s not based on us having cup runs.

“That’s based on us going out in the first round of every cup.

“Some clubs do, but we certainly can’t factor in having a Scottish Cup run.

“This club has a fabulous tradition in the Scottish Cup and we just want that to continue.

“For the last two seasons, we’ve been the last Championship club standing – a semi-final two years ago and the only Championship club to make the quarter-final last season.

“It is the luck of the draw, but we want to go deep into every competition we can.”

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