Baz Rathbone knows exactly what the Everton medical department is going through this season - because he's endured exactly the same experience himself.

But the man who spent eight years as Head of Everton's Medical department and a further three years supervising the fitness of the Under-23 squad, insists there is only one logical reason for the club's extensive injury record this season.

Bad luck.

For last weekend's trip to Manchester City Everton had Abdoulaye Doucoure, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Yerry Mina, Andre Gomes and Tom Davies all unavailable through injury - and then lost Demarai Gray after just 20 minutes to an adductor problem.

Rathbone explained: "At Everton's level it almost certainly is bad luck. When you get to the level they're at and you have two or three experts looking at every injury and you have MR scans on every injury and specialists and doctors, you are not going to make a misdiagnosis.

"I doubt if any of them are down to misdiagnosis. Sometimes it just happens."

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Rathbone, who has just published The Smell of Football 2 , a rip-roaring sequel to his enormously successful The Smell of Football, explained how draining the experience can be on the medical department.

"I got lots of accolades in my first year," he said. "David turned it round on the pitch and I was told I'd turned it round medically.

"Well thank you. We did work very hard and I had two brilliant physios in Danny Donachie and Matt Connery and a brilliant doctor. We had a great team. And we had a lot of luck.

"But in my last year every time I turned around someone was walking into the medical room and I couldn't do anything about it. I was like the little boy with his finger in the dyke.

"I felt wretched. I was driving into Finch Farm feeling half done anyway. You only needed someone to blow on you, like someone's tight hamstring to go. You get punchdrunk with it all and it did me in."

After a medical career which included Everton, England Under-17s, Preston, Blackpool, Wigan and Nottingham Forest, Rathbone is now back working for Salford.

"We all want to be wanted and when I went to Salford it was for a couple of weeks," said Rathbone, 63. "It's been four months now.

"When people say to any human being please, please, please stay - and when the players lock you in the dressing room and say they're not going to let you out until you promise to stay - it's ever so powerful. Despite my knee and the travelling and the traffic it's very powerful.

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"I spoke to the Bristol Rovers physio the other night and he has 10 injured players. At Salford we have a couple - but we had eight last week.

"It waxes and wanes.

"Two weeks ago I was going to Gary Bowyer (Salford's manager) saying seven lads, eight lads, nine lads were injured. A few times in my career there have been team line ups printed in the local paper of players who aren't available. I had it at Preston one year and at Everton in my final year - and you know what? I never injured a player in my life. But you kind of carry that can.

"I used to go in in the morning to see David Moyes with a list as long as your arm in my final year. And I felt wretched. I felt guilty because I saw their faces drop when I'd say 'he's got that' 'that's probably worse than we thought' I feel responsible. I feel guilty, even though I know I never injured anybody.

"Actually I have injured one. Last year at Everton with the Under-23s I used to stay out in the afternoon and cross balls for the goalkeepers. And one of the young goalkeepers was in. I hit a vicious cross.

"It was too good for the lad! It was whipping and curling and dipping. He missed it and fell over one of the dummies that we stick in the ground and sprained his ankle. So I have injured a player and I apologise to him!"

*You can pick up a copy of Baz Rathbone's new book here: www.thesmelloffootball2.co.uk