Snapped Achilles, ACL hell and broken bones – a look at Town's injury curse of 2018/19
PUBLISHED: 06:00 02 April 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Matthew Pennington is the latest Ipswich Town player to have his season prematurely ended. STUART WATSON documents the injury curse of 2018/19.
When the chips are down you need as many leaders on the field as possible.
Luke Chambers has been carrying too big a burden of responsibility in that regard for some time now.
That’s why Paul Hurst went out and signed Jon Walters. That’s why Paul Lambert recruited James Collins.
Both showed their Premier League and international pedigree briefly before breaking down.
Walters produced an impressive debut in the 1-1 draw with Norwich at Portman Road on September 2, providing the physicality and nous that the forward line had – and still does – badly lack.
His loan, season and, ultimately, career-ending Achilles injury came after Hurst brought him on as Town toiled against 10-man Bolton at home. He lasted just seven minutes. The risk (he had missed the previous game with a troublesome Achilles) badly backfired.
Collins signed in January. Again, Town knew the risk. A ‘trial’ under Hurst in September had to be cut short (hamstring). A short-term contract signed at Aston Villa in November was ripped up (calf).
The Welsh centre-back oozed class on his debut as the Blues ground out a 1-0 home win over Rotherham. We’ve seen him just three times since. We might not see him again after he limped off (calf) in the first half of the 2-1 home loss to Reading.
Freddie Sears was enjoying a lease of new life under Lambert. He scored five goals in the Scot’s first seven games in charge. He may have still been operating as a hard-working wide man, but was beginning to play on instinct again and rediscover his mojo.
Town’s top-scorer netted the team’s goal of the season when smashed one into the top corner at Aston Villa towards the end of February. Two games later he jarred his knee during the East Anglian derby. Surgery followed and he may not be back in action until Christmas.
Will Keane was beginning to look the part after getting up to speed following a January loan switch from Hull. The pony-tailed front man produced a neat finish against Rotherham, headed home a last-gasp equaliser against Stoke then coolly converted a penalty at Wigan only to pull up clutching his hamstring at the DW Stadium.
Ellis Harrison suffered ankle ligament damage in training at the end of September and, since a decent spell either side of Christmas which include a fine strike against Sheffield United and eye-catching display against Millwall, his progress had been hampered by hamstring issues.
Sears was the third player to suffer ACL hell.
Grant Ward ruptured his knee ligaments in the Boxing Day defeat at QPR to further reduce limited wing options. The former Tottenham man now faces an uncertain future ahead of his contract expiring this summer.
Teenage striker Ben Morris, who spent the first half of the season on loan at Forest Green Rovers, then did his during a February training session.
Australian youngster Ben Folami had snapped his Achilles heel playing for the club’s high-flying Under-23s the prior month.
Managers often talk about injuries opening up a door for someone else. At Ipswich this season even those doors have slammed shut.
Cole Skuse looked a player reborn early in the Lambert reign. The experienced midfielder was playing on the half-turn, spraying positive passes off either foot and driving into the final third.
He suffered a knee injury in training at the start of December. Following a minor operation and ridiculously quick comeback, the 33-year-old has not hit the same heights.
At the opposite end of the age spectrum is Jack Lankester. The homegrown teenager burst on the scene in October, produced a string of encouraging sub displays, began starting games and then scored against Millwall.
He played just twice more in January and has been ruled out for the season with a stress fracture in his back that requires further investigation.
The club had to carry out a ‘deep clean’ of their Playford Road training base last month following a lingering illness bug that swept the camp more than once ether side of Christmas.
Grant Ward, Teddy Bishop and Danny Rowe, Matthew Pennington, Flynn Downes, Teddy Bishop and Cole Skuse were all affected.
Emyr Huws was the man everyone hoped would be the beating heart of this team when his loan switch was turned permanent in 2017. He’s started just three games since signing a four-year deal.
A troublesome Achilles kept him out for the first half of last season, then he tore knee ligaments at Middlesbrough in December 2017. There have been numerous set-backs in what was meant to be his comeback season.
Fellow midfielder Tom Adeyemi has become the forgotten man. He underwent Achilles surgery in October and will almost certainly depart when his contract expires this summer having made just five appearances for the club.
Tayo Edun having to go back to Fulham because of an eye injury.
Teddy Bishop only being able to play regular games come the second half of the campaign.
Jon Nolan’s dead leg delaying his rejuvenation under Lambert.
Callum Elder not playing since January with an unspecified injury.
Gwion Edwards missing a spell with a groin problem.
Luke Chambers breaking his wrist when colliding heavily with a perimeter gate.
Even Dean Gerken suffered with what Lambert described as ‘a sore one’ at one stage.
INSULT TO INJURY
And then, to cap it all off, Matthew Pennington ruptures his ankle ligaments in training last week. It’s understood he did so colliding with a post after clearing the ball off the line.
The Everton loanee defender has a strong shout for being Player of the Season. Him joining the long-term injury list just adds to the feeling of this entire miserable season being cursed.