The Pompey boss has detailed the extreme lengths he and his staff have gone to in a bid to get to the bottom of the defender’s recurring fitness issues.
Downing is facing up to another spell on the sidelines, after coming off with a hamstring injury against Sutton United on Tuesday night.
It’s the opposite hamstring to the one injured in the summer, but the outlook isn’t good for the former West Brom and Blackburn man who’s had previous issues in that area.
Cowley revealed how he and the club have carried out detailed work with the centre-half to help solve the problems, but are hitting dead ends.
He said: ‘I spent a good period with Paul on Thursday looking at everything really.
‘It’s the opposite hamstring to pre-season so it’s not like it’s a recurring injury. It’s hard to put a finger on it really.
‘We’ve looked at everything from diet to sleep to travel to how he sits in his car.
‘We’ve looked at the exact strength and conditioning programme he’s doing, try to work out if it’s a strength or flexibility issue.
‘We’re looking at his prehab and the way he prepares for training and games.
‘Then you look at his recovery and if there’s anything else we can do.
‘His numbers going into Tuesday were good and we always expose them to sprint distance every seven-day period.‘That’s important, otherwise it can cause hamstring and quad strains.
‘He has a Nordic programme which he does, which is very specific to the hamstring region.
‘We just can’t find the answers at the moment.’
Downing’s problem means another defensive injury in an area Pompey are already lacking cover at present.
That presents another issue for Cowley, but he explained his thoughts were with the player and the ongoing problems providing mental as well as physical challenges for the 29-year-old.
Cowley added: ‘I’d imagine we’re going to hear it’s a grade two (tear).
‘It’s not good and it’s not easy physically or mentally for Paul.
‘I feel desperately disappointed for him.
‘He’s a very good professional who does everything right. It’s just not going for him at the minute.
‘Your heart is always with the player, because you know however disappointed you are it’s multiplied in terms of how they are feeling.
‘If he was one who wasn’t living the right life or training properly, I’d be the first to say to him. But that’s just not the case.
‘Sometimes you have these runs, but you have to try to work out the whys.’
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