In the absence of any midweek betting ideas I thought I’d do a run through of the players I’ve missed watching the most this season. As always there are some big names that have been unable to play due to injuries, or bureaucracy in some cases.
The reason I’ve gone for these three guys is because I think their teams are missing them most, as much as I rate them individually or simply enjoy the way they play.
Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool
It was a choice between Daniel Sturridge and Jack Wilshere for my ‘no brainer’ and I’ve gone for the Liverpool man simply as his team are missing him more, Arsenal have so many midfielders that at times I almost forget about Wilshere.
Liverpool on the other hand look light in numbers in attack. I looked at their options at the start of the season and thought they had a pretty decent frontline but it hasn’t worked out that way. Christian Benteke has only shown glimpses of the form that convinced the Anfield hierarchy to sanction a big move, Divock Origi isn’t quite the finished article, Danny Ings could very well have made this list and Sturridge has managed just the six games to date.
The really worrying thing is he keeps coming back, or nearly coming back, and then suffering setbacks. There’s also a very real chance he could miss the Euros in the summer but we’ll leave that discussion for another day.
Type of injury; hamstring (previously thigh and hip)
Return date; Potentially Liverpool’s trip to Leicester on February 2, if not the visit of Sunderland the following Saturday. How long he can sustain his fitness though remains to be seen.
Will Hughes, Derby County
I expected a big season from the star product of the Derby County academy this term but he sustained an injury in the Rams’ season opener and has been sidelined ever since. There’s a lot to like about Will Hughes, there are shades of Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta about him – a good engine, great vision and his passing ability is unrivalled in the Championship as far as I’m concerned.
Hughes is only 20 years old so you’d expect a full recovery, indeed despite the fact he’s not featured since the opening weekend there’s still been a bit of transfer speculation surrounding him this month, albeit rumours on the more ridiculous side of tenuous given his lack of action.
Type of injury; knee (cruciate ligament)
Return date; February at the earliest, perhaps March but he is expected to make a return before this season ends.
Callum Wilson, Bournemouth
Callum Wilson was just starting to hit his stride when he was cut down for the campaign. He had a great year in the Cherries’ promotion season as he finished as their top scorer with 23, but a hat-trick and a few other strikes in August suggested he was set to eclipse that in Bournemouth’s first year in the Premier League. There was even some tentative ‘will he force his way into the England squad’ type of talk prior to his injury blow and since then Roy Hodgson has revealed he was keeping tabs on the forward.
Type of injury; knee (cruciate ligament)
Return date; the initial prognosis in August was six to nine months and that hasn’t changed. The 23-year-old’s got an outside chance of playing again this season but the more likely scenario is the start of the next campaign.
When paperwork gets in the way
Football fans have been robbed of Arda Turan for much of the season after he decided to swap Atletico Madrid for Barcelona in the summer. Their transfer ban meant he wasn’t able to register but they kept him around the squad anyway, the same goes for Aleix Vidal, who joined from Sevilla.
I only just realised Kevin Grosskreutz had been absent through paperwork issues earlier this month. The forward, a member of Germany’s World Cup winning squad (admittedly without an appearance in Brazil), joined Galatasaray in the summer but too late to be registered. Then he was left in limbo…
On the plus side for Grosskreutz it sounds like he was having some fun during his unexpected time off, travelling back to Germany on a regular basis according to Joachim Low via the Gala staff, presumably for nights on the beers and some traditional sausage munching. He may have needed that time off now he’s returned to the Bundesliga to link up with struggling Stuttgart, without making a single appearance for the Turkish giants.