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FA doctor backs improved screening
England's team doctor Ian Beasley believes the new St George's Park complex will be the trigger for even more detailed health screening of players in this country.
The much-anticipated complex at Burton is due to open later this summer. Although the main aim is to improve coaching standards, it will also boast a significant medical facility, with the way players are looked after now a hot topic following the cardiac arrest suffered by Bolton's Fabrice Muamba at White Hart Lane last weekend.
While Dr Beasley believes the medical attention Muamba received saved his life, he feels St George's Park will be the catalyst for even greater improvement. He said: "We will be able to monitor players from a much younger age and in far more detail."
Dr Beasley added: "We will have the capacity to view their skeletons, monitor their heart rates, give them cardiac tests, from the youngest teams right up to the national side.
"If they are part of an academy the information will go onto the passports they receive under the Elite Player Performance Plan.
"St George's Park is something very close to my heart and whilst I have been to many FIFA centres of medical excellence around the world, it has the ability to be much better."
The medical staff who treated Muamba on Saturday have earned widespread praise for their work, which Dr Beasley acknowledges saved the 23-year-old's life. Not everyone is entirely happy though, in particular Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini, who expressed his concerns in forthright fashion on Tuesday.
Dr Beasley can understand Mancini's argument for more rigorous screening and it is something that will be brought up at key meetings of football's senior doctors in May.
"In the past there has been no real consensus about how often screening should be done," he added. "FIFA say once every two years, UEFA say every year, in Italy it is every six months.
"Doctors would love to see every player screened all the time, but there is a cost implication. When we sit down together in May we will talk to each other and see what the best way of screening should be. After all, we might not get everything but if we manage to save one player, it has to be worth considering."