Whether we like to admit it or not, injuries are part of all professional sports. While understanding and treating them has evolved considerably in the Premier League era, there are still some talented soccer players who are left thinking what might have been if they had stayed fit. Remember these promising England players who struggled with injuries?
When you have the nickname Sicknote, it’s not a good thing. Darren Anderton actually started his professional career before the Premier League formed in 1992 and caught the eye of Tottenham Hotspur when he was playing for Portsmouth in a lower division.
Spurs signed Anderton off the back of fine goalscoring form in a run to the FA Cup semi-finals with Pompey. He spent the next 12 years at White Hart Lane, switching from a striker role to playing on the wing, but it was a constant battle to keep fit and, following a season at Birmingham City, he dropped down to the lower leagues.
Anderton still managed 30 caps and seven international goals for England, making the squads for Euro 96 on home soil and the 1998 World Cup in France. He even scored at that latter tournament against Colombia in a 2-0 win.
How different England and Arsenal’s midfield might look today if Jack Wilshere could have stayed injury-free. Ankle problems have been a particular issue for him and his patchy fitness record could well have played its part in the Gunners releasing him in the summer of 2018.
West Ham United then took a punt on Wilshere, but he played just 16 Premier League matches there in the last couple of seasons. They too let him go over the summer of 2020 and, as of right now, he is looking for a new club. Wilshere believes he can still have a part to play at the top level in English football. His former club West Ham have done just fine without him, though, and are 2/1 chances in the Premier League betting on a top 10 finish this season.
With England, Wilshere went to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and Euro 2016 where the Three Lions suffered a sobering defeat and elimination at the hands of first-time qualifiers Iceland. His international career saw him play 34 times and score twice.
Wilshere’s old Arsenal teammate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is yet another example of a footballer who has been unlucky with injuries. After coming through the ranks at Southampton, he has never played a full Premier League season – either with the Gunners or current club Liverpool.
The Ox missed Jurgen Klopp steering the Anfield outfit to Champions League glory in 2019 but did manage 30 games as they won the Premier League for a first English championship in 30 years. Knee and ankle ligaments have restricted this promising player who has moved into midfield after spending his youth on the wing.
Oxlade-Chamberlain played at Euro 2012 and went to the subsequent World Cup in Brazil alongside Wilshere. His England career stands at 35 caps and seven international goals.
For many, it is a matter of unfulfilled potential. For all, there is the frustration of having to watch their teammates while they’re on the sidelines or watching in the stands. Regardless, we will always wonder what their careers could have been.
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