Jean-Philippe Gbamin is following an intensive rehabilitation programme and steadily closing on a return to full training after surgery in February to repair a tear in his quadriceps tendon.
Midfielder Gbamin’s debut Everton season after joining from Mainz 05 last summer has been blighted by injury but the Ivorian is “extremely positive” over the progress he is making under the care of first-team physiotherapist Adam Newall.
Gbamin was hurt in training shortly after his first Everton start back in August. After revised surgery on the muscle 11 weeks ago, he has spent the intervening period working closely with Newall to regain fitness.
Newall concedes he would ideally be overseeing the 24-year-old’s recovery at Everton’s USM Finch Farm training headquarters.
But, liaising with the Club’s Head of Medical Services, Danny Donachie, the pair quickly alighted on a routine following the coronavirus outbreak to maintain Gbamin’s advance towards full health.
“He is working tirelessly to get back and sometimes I have to rein him in a little bit,” Newall told evertonfc.com.
“We are pleased with where he’s at in his recovery.
“With the surgery he had, the idea is to slowly increase the flexibility in the muscle and progressively ramp up its strength.
“Once you’re happy with those parameters – which we are now – we can increase function.
Jean-Philippe Gbamin's week-nine rehabilitation programme.
“If we were back at Finch Farm this week, he’d be ready to build on his outside rehab with the physios.
“Therefore, we are slowly introducing sports-specific movements this week.
“He is extremely positive and looking forward to mixing with the lads and pushing to be back in training.
“The intention is to have a three-week period of reintegration [when Gbamin will train outdoors following the players’ return to Finch Farm], then we expect him to start joining the squad for training sessions.”
Gbamin is training twice a day, six days a week, and using equipment delivered to him by the Club after Finch Farm was shut down last month.
He concentrates on stretching and mobility exercises in the morning and turns his focus to cardiovascular and strength training later in the day.
Gbamin’s aerobic work features sessions on a stationary Wattbike, outdoor runs and specific intervals on his treadmill.
Newall is in constant dialogue with Gbamin and conscious of the importance of introducing variety and competition into the routine of a player who has made more than 200 senior appearances and was with Lens in France before joining Bundesliga Mainz in summer 2016.
“We had a treadmill and Wattbike and gym equipment delivered to him,” said Newall.
“But we mix up his programme, so he is working outside as well as at home.
“He’ll train for an hour in the morning and another one hour 30 minutes in the afternoon, then he has his own core and upper body routines he adds to his day.
Everton First-Team Physiotherapist Adam Newall
“In an ideal world I’d be working with him at Finch Farm and watching him do every single thing.
“But after a week or so we got round most of the obstacles.
“I set him a schedule every week and we speak every day.
“We also use FaceTime so I can watch him make certain movements.
“He records his heart rate and distances on his watch, or if he trains on a machine in his house he screenshots everything he does.
“I do a lot of running, so I will do certain intervals to see if I can challenge him. We always try to tap into the players’ competitive nature at Finch Farm, so it is a way of trying to replicate that – and prevent training becoming monotonous for him.”
In addition to regularly speaking with Newall about his recovery, Gbamin has found in Everton’s physiotherapist a valuable sounding board as he juggles rehabilitation with adjusting to life in a new country.
“There is so much to it [physio-player relationship],” said Newall.
“His partner is expecting a baby and there are all different kinds of things he is getting used to.
“We call and speak about different things – general things which are nothing to do with his rehab.
“He doesn’t have all his family over here – so it is more than managing the player you are rehabbing.
“You have to know and understand them and always be there – especially in this situation [lockdown].
“He is a great lad, quiet at the training ground but once you get to know him he is quite funny – and he opens up a lot.”
Gbamin made his Everton debut as a first-half substitute at Crystal Palace on the opening day of the campaign and, seven days later, played 90 minutes in the 1-0 Goodison Park victory over Watford.
He underwent surgery back in October and was operated on for a second time in February.
“The initial surgery was carried out to repair the tear and there is always an element of risk associated with this procedure,” explained Newall.
“Unfortunately, this didn’t achieve its desired result and JP needed to have another procedure in February in order to regain full function.
“We are 11 weeks post-surgery and he is getting that bit closer to fitness, so he can continue with outdoor rehab when we get to Finch Farm.
“He can’t wait to get back in and is desperate to be involved.
“It has been a really challenging year for him – but he is extremely positive and exactly where we want him to be physically.”