Football is the beautiful game, but it can also be a torrid one for players when injury strikes. Who are going to be the top 5 long-term limpers of the season?
There are a lot of contenders to be included in this line-up; but this is certainly one of the accolades professional footballers do not want to receive during their career. However, here is my list of the league’s biggest limpers this season…
Tom Huddlestone… this Tottenham midfielder has become somewhat of a forgotten entity this season after the signing of Scott Parker, who now occupies the holding role that was once Huddlestone’s stomping ground. The 25 year old hasn’t played a single minute of football since Spurs were on the wrong end of a 5-1 drubbing by title-contenders Manchester City; and had totalled only 4 appearances for the club prior to this in the 2011/2012 season.
It is arguable as to whether Huddlestone would have started many games anyway, owing to the consistent form of England captain Parker, but he was the most consistently selected player for Tottenham, in all competitions, in the 2009/2010 season and ultimately became an integral part of the Spurs set-up. Huddlestone isn’t expected to return to full fitness for another 8 weeks following surgery twice on the injury he picked up at the beginning of the season. He has tweeted recently of his aim to be fit to ‘start pre-season as normal with the lads’. Fingers crossed.
Mamady Sidibe …Stoke’s powerful striker has been hampered by injury since joining the club and was first struck down by a knee ligament injury in the 2008/2009 season. Following this Sidibe snapped his Achilles tendon in 2010 which kept him out of the majority of that Premier League campaign. At present Sidibe remains side-lined with a knee injury and will not be returning to action for another 2 months at least.
Stoke’s number 11 has therefore not played a single game in the whole of the 2011/2012 season. Furthermore at the age of 32, Sidibe may find it difficult to return to the form that lead Stoke to sign him, and even if he makes a full recovery he may just struggle to force his way into the starting line-up with the presence of Kenwyne Jones, Peter Crouch and Ricardo Fuller.
Stuart Holden… you have got to feel for Holden. The popular midfielder, after making his dream move back to the Premiership in 2010 from Houston Dynamo, has had a nightmare with injury in the UK with Bolton Wanderers. After suffering a fractured leg from a well-publicized challenge from Nigel de Jong, Holden returned to the Bolton side only to be hampered by a persistent thigh injury and then a serious knee injury sustained at Manchester United’s ground in March 2011, that has prevented him from playing ever since. A tackle from United’s Johnny Evans left Holden with a wound that required 26 stitches.
Holden returned to the Bolton side in a Carling Cup game, which would turn out to be the only game the USA starlet would play for the club this season; cartilage damage to the same knee has ruled him out for the remainder of the current campaign. However, unlike 32 year old Sidibe, Holden has time on his side and, at the age of 26, has many more years to get back on track with his footballing career.
Jack Wilshere…arguably the brightest young talent to emerge in England for some time, burst onto the scene on loan at Bolton Wanderers in the 2009/2010 season but made his biggest impact when returning to Arsenal in the subsequent campaign, where he started 46 games in total. Through his fine form for the club, he also broke into the England side, and immediately became a firm favourite with the since departed England manager Fabio Capello; in fact the last competitive game Wilshere played was in an England shirt back in June 2011 – a 2-2 draw against Switzerland.
Wilshere has not managed any playing time whatsoever for Arsenal or England since, due to a stress fracture Jack suffered to his ankle in pre-season. Devastatingly for club, country, fans and the player himself, Wilshere was recently ruled out for the rest of the season effectively ending any hope of his participation in the European Championships this summer; a major blow to England’s chances.
Kieron Dyer… I don’t like to see Dyer on this list because it seems the lad has been in the physio room more often than he has been on the pitch during his lengthy career. After a promising start to his career at Newcastle, where his blistering pace and direct dribbling saw him become a regular in the England set-up, injury began to plague his progression.
How injury can change things. Some may not even realise that Kieron is now on the books at Queen Park Rangers, as he has so far managed to play no more than 7 minutes for the side. Dyer started the opening game of the season against Bolton, a game which saw him stretchered off with an ankle injury, after only a few minutes on the pitch.
He seems to be the unluckiest man in football (and not only because his middle-name is Courtney); since the 2007/2008 season, where Kieron was plying his trade at West Ham, the midfielder has started only 19 games simply because of his terrible luck with injury. Unfortunately, Kieron Dyer may not only be the Premier League’s biggest limper this season; alongside Middlesbrough’s Matthew Bates, who who has been injured more often than I wish to remember, he may be up there with the most injured players ever to grace the English game. Sorry Kieron.
Players who just missed the cut…
Chung Yong-Lee… Another Bolton player, the South-Korean winger has not had the best of luck with injury this season. He suffered a nasty leg break in pre-season which was initially thought to have ended his hopes of playing any part in the current Premier League campaign. However, it seems that Lee may yet play a part before the close of the season, and this is why he hasn’t quite made the cut.
Vince Grella… Blackburn’s injury prone midfielder has been missing since the middle of October and is reportedly looking to move to Asia at the end of the season in a bid to revive his international career with Australia.
Michael Owen… it just wouldn’t be an injury list without Michael Owen. The Manchester United front man has had his fair share of injuries in his time and this season is no different. The Cheshire man has been side-lined since December with a persistent thigh injury but looks to return very soon in a bid to aid United’s title ambitions for the remainder of the season.
Interesting fact: Liverpool Football Club have had the least number of injuries of any Premier League team this season
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