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Exploring nutritional strategies to optimise performance in Academy footballers (Ref: SF20/SER/BRIGGS)

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

About the Project

The demands of Academy football match-play include a requirement to cover distances of ~7-11 km (Goto et al., 2015), perform explosive bouts of skill-based work (Stolen et al., 2005) and run at high intensities (>3.0 m s−2) for up to 375 ± 120 m per half (Russell et al., 2015), whilst eliciting mean whole-match intensities of 70-80% V̇O2max (Bangsbo, 2010). The ability to sustain such demands is integral to the performance outcome (Krustrup et al., 2006), as match-related fatigue has been reported both transiently throughout a game (Krustrup et al. 2006) and from 45 min onwards (Harper et al., 2016; Russell et al., 2015; Russell et al., 2011; Mohr et al., 2005). Although fatigue is likely multifaceted in origin, previous studies have highlighted the role of both habitual and pre-exercise nutritional status on the ability to maintain performance and to enable effective recovery (Anderson et al., 2016).

Habitual energy intake, and in particular, consumption on match-days and heavy training days have been highlighted as an area of concern with respect to estimated energy balance in Academy football players, with daily deficits of 500-550 Kcal·d-1 reported (Briggs et al., 2015). Such data agrees with that of previous authors who reported mean daily energy deficits of ~300–800 Kcal·d-1 in this population (Russell and Pennock, 2011; Caccialanza et al., 2007; Ruiz et al., 2005; Leblanc et al., 2002; Boisseau at al., 2002). In the case of the Academy football player, such practices, albeit unconfirmed, may have long-term implications for maintenance of training demands, optimised performance, adequate recovery, as well as detrimental effects on growth and development (Briggs et al. 2015). Therefore, effective strategies are warranted to alleviate sub-optimal energy intakes that are appropriate to meet the practical demands of both a periodised training schedule and multiple match-play fixtures.

Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g., SF20/…) will not be considered.
Deadline for applications: Open
Start Date: October 2020 or March 2021
Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Enquiries to Dr Marc Briggs ()

Funding Notes

Please note, this is a self-funded project and does not include tuition fees or stipend; the studentship is available to Students Worldwide. Fee bands are available at View Website . A relevant fee band will be discussed at interview based on project running costs


Briggs, M. A., Harper, L. D., McNamee, G., Cockburn, E., Rumbold, P. L. S., Stevenson, E. J., & Russell, M. (2017). The effects of an increased calorie breakfast consumed prior to simulated match-play in Academy soccer players. European Journal of Sport Science, 17 (7) 858-866.
Harper, L. D., Briggs, M. A., McNamee, G., West, D. J., Kilduff, L. P., Stevenson, E. and Russell, M. (2016). Physiological and performance effects of carbohydrate gels consumed prior to the extra-time period of prolonged simulated soccer match-play. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 19 (6) 509-514
Briggs, M. A, Cockburn, E., Rumbold, P. L. S., Rae, G., Stevenson, E. J., & Russell, M. (2015). Assessment of energy intake and energy expenditure of male adolescent academy-level soccer players during a competitive week. Nutrients 7, 8392-8401.

Briggs, M.A., Cockburn, E., Rumbold, P.L.S., and Stevenson, E. (2015). Agreement between two methods of dietary data collection in male adolescent academy-level soccer players. Nutrients, 7, 5948-5960.

Harper, L. D., Clifford, T., Briggs, M. A., McNamee, G., West, D. J., Stevenson, E., & Russell, M. (2016). The Effects of 120 Minutes of Simulated Match Play on Indices of Acid-Base Balance in Professional Academy Soccer Players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 30, 1517-1524.

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