We’ve crunched the numbers to reveal the players across England who have spent the most minutes on the bench in league matches this season, including the time before and after a substitution is made.
These are listed in the graphic below, including a timeline for each player’s season showing (in yellow) the time they have been sat on the sidelines.
We’ve excluded goalkeepers – for whom life as a back-up is a common career choice – along with players who have been named in fewer than 10 matchday squads and those who have not appeared since the January transfer window closed.
Leicester defender James Justin was handed a rare start against Aston Villa on Monday night to show just how much patience is necessary for a player to force their way into Brendan Rodgers’ plans.
A summer arrival from Luton, Justin has spent over 40 hours of his life on the Foxes’ bench in the Premier League this season – more than any other outfield player. Two of his more experienced team-mates – Wes Morgan and Marc Albrighton – are in the top four, alongside Sheffield United veteran Phil Jagielka.
Spare a thought for Burnley’s Kevin Long, who may not have spent as much time on the bench as Leicester’s trio but has only been on the pitch for three minutes out of the 1,800 that the Clarets have played this season with him in the matchday squad.
There is hope for this season’s bench-warmers, though, as there are plenty of regular substitutes who go on to break into the first team.
Dan Burn has played over 95% of possible league minutes for Brighton this season but didn’t get off the bench once last term, while Sheffield United’s breakout star John Lundstram was mostly a spectator as the Blades won promotion from the Championship last season.
For a select few however, sitting on the bench becomes a depressingly regular experience.
Peter Crouch spent over two weeks of his life watching Premier League matches from the sidelines, while there are 13 players who have been named in over 200 squads but spent more than half of that time sat among the substitutes.
Three remain active in the English top flight and therefore still have time to play themselves out of the list, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain perhaps having the best chance.
The Liverpool and England midfielder has struggled for fitness in his career so far and remains a rotation option for both club and country.
In the three divisions below the Premier League there is one outfield player who has spent more than two days of his life on the substitutes’ bench this season.
Adam Randell, of Plymouth, passed this milestone during the 3-0 home win over Macclesfield on Saturday, before joining the action in the closing minutes.
In the Championship it’s Preston who have three players among the top 10 benchwarmers, with Jayden Stockley, Ryan Ledson and Brad Potts all spending comfortably over a day of their lives among the substitutes.
Crewe have managed the same feat in League Two where Callum Ainley, Owen Dale and Oliver Finney are all among the fourth tier’s top 10.
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