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Vertonghen tested amid clamour for 'concussion subs'


Medical concern: Jan Vertonghen underwent lengthy treatment for a head injury on Tuesday night
Medical concern: Jan Vertonghen underwent lengthy treatment for a head injury on Tuesday night
Antonio Mateu Lahoz

By Jonathan Veal

Defender Jan Vertonghen is to see a neurologist today after suffering a worrying head injury during Tottenham's Champions League defeat by Ajax.

The 32-year-old Belgium international had to be helped from the pitch during Tuesday evening's 1-0 semi-final, first-leg defeat after initially being allowed to play on following lengthy treatment.

Spurs last night insisted that Vertonghen had not lost consciousness after colliding with team-mate Toby Alderweireld as the pair challenged for a high ball and, while they confirmed he had suffered no ill-effects in the 24 hours since, he is to be assessed by a specialist.

A statement on the club's official website said: "Jan Vertonghen has undergone further assessment today after sustaining a head injury in last night's Champions League semi-final first leg against Ajax. He also suffered a small cut to his nose that was bleeding heavily.

"The Belgium defender was assessed on the pitch yesterday immediately after the incident with our medical team strictly following Football Association concussion guidelines.

"Following testing he was judged to be alert and answered all questions correctly and lucidly, deeming him fit to return to the field of play.

"All available video footage was relayed to our on-pitch medical team and they were able to confirm that he had suffered no loss of consciousness.

"Jan was immediately withdrawn as a result of the player informing medical staff that symptoms were developing suddenly and that he no longer felt stable standing up.

"Tests today have been clear and testing will continue for the next few days. Additionally, as is standard club policy with certain injuries, we shall also be seeking independent advice and Jan is due to see a neurologist, who specialises in elite athletes, tomorrow. The player has reported no ill-effects today."

Vertonghen's unsuccessful attempt to play on after he assured referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz he was well enough to continue has led to brain injury charity Headway calling for the introduction of "temporary concussion substitutions".

The charity insists rolling substitutes would allow medical staff to make proper assessments of injured players without pressure of the match situation.

Luke Griggs, spokesperson for Headway, said: "We believe the time has come for football to introduce temporary concussion substitutions that would allow for longer off-pitch assessments to be conducted.

"Concussion is notoriously difficult to diagnose. The symptoms may be hidden and require the individual to be honest about how they're feeling, while they can also be delayed in their presentation.

"Assessing a player for three minutes - or even five, as was the case with Jan Vertonghen - does not allow for medical staff to make a reliable diagnosis, particularly when this is conducted on the pitch under the gaze of tens of thousands of fans eager for the game to resume."

Belfast Telegraph

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