In further frustrating news, Jack Grealish is set to sit out yet another game, now missing the trip to Stoke this weekend.
This continues a stream of unconvincing and mixed messages out of the football club that date back to Grealish’s initial injury. Whilst the severity and length of the midfielders layoff was played down from the start, it has since become a protracted absence.
Villa held the line that the injury was ‘baffling’ medical professionals, before Grealish emerged in a protective boot. As recently as last week the manager appeared surprised that medical advice had kept him from selecting Grealish at least on the bench, particularly as training ground ball-work had been successful. Even more surprising is Smith’s sudden caution and reference to Grealish now training on ‘grass’… (as opposed to??).
This has fuelled the emergence of ‘conspiracy theories’ across social media; perhaps something that could be avoided if the football club provided a clearer communication on a realistic return date.
Whilst The Villa Underground isn’t into mere speculation, Grealish’s continued absence continues to harm Villa on the pitch. His return cannot come soon enough.
In a story that appears to have caught many napping, Lovre Kalinic is also a doubt for the Stoke game.
Whilst local press and even the Croatian football federation proclaimed Kalinic’s head injury as minor, few gave any consideration to the likely concussion he’d suffered in a clash with Jake Livermore against West Brom.
The Villa Underground considered this – and we now know that Kalinic has been monitored as part of a ‘concussion programme’.
This is particularly important as it recognises the potential severity of the injury, which as a result has strict medical guidance around both the monitoring of and ‘return to play’.
Whilst football has been increasingly mindful of this in the modern era, Rugby has lead the way, with England Rugby’s guidance on such instances being as follows:
In some circumstances (such as Professional clubs and Rugby Academies) there is a doctor with training and experience in the management of concussion/traumatic brain injury available to closely supervise the player’s care and GRTP, and clear the player prior to RTP. In these instances, a shortened timeframe for RTP is possible, but only under strict supervision by the appropriate medical experts as part of a structured concussion management programme.
As such, do not be surprised to see Jed Steer deputising at Stoke.
The on-loan Swansea midfielder, who featured for a few minutes as a sub against Reading, has been confirmed as suffering from a hip injury.
This is the same injury that kept the former Spurs man out for three months earlier this season. As such, Smith’s remarks that he’ll be available in early March appear optimistic. Carroll therefore definitely will not feature against Stoke.
Remember this guy?
Lansbury is still not recuperated from a troublesome and recurring hamstring injury. At a time when Villa desperately need both a midfield option and with someone with a point to prove, it’s annoying that Lansbury remains out of contention.
The impressive centre-half continues his recuperation from a foot injury and won’t feature this weekend.
After excellent early season form, Tuanzebe returned back to his parent club Manchester United for treatment and Villa’s form has since collapsed.
Whilst Tyrone Mings has improved matters at centre half alongside Elphick, one can’t help but keep their fingers crossed for a swift return for Tuanzebe.
The club captain remains out with a knee injury.
Chester hasn’t trained a great deal since late last year and should really have been rested sooner.
No anticipated return date has been floated as yet as Villa and Chester likely monitor whether the knee requires surgery or just rest & recuperation.