(Reuters) - Everton defender Leighton Baines is relying on advances in sports science and medical technology, including a change in diet, to help prolong his career.
The 32-year-old, who has made nearly 400 Premier League appearances, says sports science has come a long way since he started playing and can offer the sort of marginal gains that keep older players performing at the highest level.
“I feel like when I first started it was just creeping in and taking off a little bit and it just keeps growing and growing,” Baines told Everton’s website.
“There’s so much to it now and everyone’s trying to find that extra one or two percent wherever they can get it, and that can be a big thing in the game now.”
Baines added that he was already benefiting from having good habits throughout his career and expected the sacrifices he had made over the years to pay dividends in terms of extending his time out on the pitch.
”I’ve just got to try to be as close to perfect as possible in terms of how you live your life, your preparation, your recovery,“ he said. ”I think that’s the only thing you can do when you get into your thirties.
”We have a team of people here who you can have conversations with and just look in-depth into your diet. Recovery, preparation - all these things are key but I‘m feeling good and enjoying it.
“I think it’s worth sacrificing or taking a few of the things off your plate and replacing them with something else because it might just help you a tiny bit... The tiny sacrifices can give you the best chance come the weekend.”
Everton, who visit promoted Brighton and Hove Albion in the league on Sunday, are already under pressure after making a torrid start to the season despite investing heavily in the squad over the summer.
The Merseyside club are currently 16th in the 20-team table after two wins and a draw in their first seven games.
Writing by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly