Football: No need to dramatise response to Koch head injury, says Bielsa

Leeds' Robin Koch was left bloodied after a clash of heads with Manchester United's Scott McTominay on Feb 20, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

(REUTERS) - Leeds United's response to the head injury suffered by defender Robin Koch in Sunday's 4-2 Premier League defeat by Manchester United must not be dramatised, manager Marcelo Bielsa said on Tuesday (Feb 22).

Koch was left bloodied after a clash of heads with Scott McTominay early in the match and continued to play on with heavy bandaging before being substituted in the 31st minute.

The Professional Footballers' Association said the existing concussion protocols failed to prioritise player safety while brain injury charity Headway said it was "frustrated and confused" at football's response to the issue.

"The prevention of the knocks to the heads of players is very serious, very important," Bielsa told reporters ahead of Wednesday's Premier League game against Liverpool.

"It can generate real dramas, but it's also true that you should not dramatise situations that don't deserve to be interpreted in the way this situation has been."

According to the league's protocol, team doctors will have as much time as required to assess a player. If the player shows clear symptoms, he will be substituted and prevented from returning to the field of play.

However, the system has been criticised as it puts pressure on doctors to make quick decisions, while calls have increased for temporary substitutions to be allowed while head injuries are being assessed.

Bielsa said that Leeds followed all protocols and Koch experienced delayed symptoms.

"As you should know, the symptoms of a clash like this have 24 hours to play out so in the solution of the subject, we all did exactly what corresponded. We did nothing different to the protocol," Bielsa said.

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