There was mixed news for supporters in Brentford FC Head of Medical Neil Greig’s Thursday update on the current injury situation. Let’s take it from the top.
Alan Judge has thankfully fully recovered from his hamstring strain which caused him to miss our last two matches – neither of which were won – which underlines just how valuable he is to the team. He has now joined the Republic of Ireland squad as they prepare for their crucial European Championship playoff clashes. Let’s just hope that they wrap him in cottonwool and that he returns to the club fit and well and refreshed and raring to go before next week’s match against Nottingham Forest. I doubt that he will be required to play in either of Eire’s next two matches but his time will come and he is desperately close to making his full international debut, an accolade that will be fully merited given his consistently brilliant performances for us.
Josh McEachran is back in training after recovering from his fractured foot and is currently working hard to regain full fitness having missed much of the preseason training regime. He is expected to play some part in today’s behind closed doors friendly match against AFC Bournemouth and all being well, should he suffer no adverse reaction, then we might well see him in the not too distant future. Josh is a real talent who should fit right in with the pass and move approach that we are currently employing and I cannot wait to see him successfully integrated back into the squad and finally make his long-awaited debut for us
Success in the Championship requires all of the old fashioned virtues of strength, organisation, tackling, pressing and fitness but the best teams also possess some game changers – players who can take a match by the scruff of its neck and singlehandedly influence its outcome with a piece of individual brilliance that brings about victory. Last season we had a plethora of such talent in Alex Pritchard, Alan Judge, Moses Odubajo, Andre Gray, Jota and Nick Proschwitz. OK, forget the last named – I was just checking that you were all still awake!
Things have been really different this time around as for various reasons we have lost three of our former inspirations, Jota has been hors de combat and Alan Judge has been left pretty much on his own to make things happen, although John Swift has recently demonstrated that he too is a real talent with an eye for an opening.
Jota contributed eleven goals and so much more to the team last season with his pace, vision and dribbling ability and in April his talent was recognised when he was named as one of FourFourTwo Magazine’s top forty Football League players of the season. He has not featured since the opening game of the season when he came out second best after a challenge by his erstwhile team mate Jonathan Douglas and his influence has been sorely missed.
The last three months have been equally frustrating for both him and us as he has been forced to undergo ankle surgery and then kick his heels on the sidelines but he is now due to return to team training next week and all being well it is hoped that he will take part in a friendly match within a couple of weeks.
Wouldn’t it be marvellous if he was fit enough to make his comeback against Fulham in the middle of next month given his two last minute goals against them last season? Perhaps that is too much of a fairy tale to come true – but who knows?
Maxime Colin is also close to recovery from his knee ligament injury and is also expected back fully fit by the middle of December. He too looked like he was going to develop into a real asset and will be welcomed back although Nico Yennaris has performed exceptionally well in his absence and will not give up his place without a fight.
Scott Hogan completed a successful reconditioning camp in Philadelphia last month and is also making encouraging progress and we can all live in hope that fortune will finally and not before time, shine down on him and that he will be able to resume his career, maybe even this season rather than next.
Record signing Andreas Bjelland is now undergoing rehabilitation after his knee surgery and is working towards his objective of returning to straight line running. he is not expected back until next season.
The major setback is to Lewis Macleod who had been progressing so well over the past two months and had impressed in a series of Development Squad matches and we were beginning to relish the thought of finally seeing our starlet in first team action. Unfortunately he sustained a small strain to the same hamstring last Friday, albeit to a different area, which prevented him from completing the game as planned.
Whilst the injury is felt to be minor no risks will be taken with him and he will be conservatively managed. Assuming that all goes to plan (and who knows if that will be the case given his continued ill fortune) I would doubt that he will be playing again this side of Christmas. We will all just have to be even more patient but I suspect that he will be well worth waiting for.
The news about Marco Djuricin, crocked at Blackburn last week is also not great as he has also injured his ankle ligaments. This seems to be a common injury nowadays but thankfully it appears that he does not require surgery. Even so it is doubtful whether he will be fit for at least a couple of months, and maybe even longer.
The key question is whether we can get by without him and rely upon Lasse Vibe and Philipp Hofmann to provide the goals that we need to continue our progress up the league. It might well be that we will be looking to bring in a loanee to help fill the gap as neither appears best suited to play the lone striker role.
Touch wood, everybody else is fit and well at present but I wouldn’t shout too loud about that for fear of tempting fate.
Candidly, I have never known a season like this for injuries and my memory goes back quite a long way. The nadir was surely reached back in 1970 when reserve goalkeeper Gordon Phillips was forced to sit on the bench as a non-playing substitute at Crewe owing to a series of injuries which stretched our minute squad to its limits however things reached such a state at Middlesbrough earlier this season that we were forced to have two goalkeepers in Jack Bonham and Mark Smith on the bench too.
To be safely ensconced in mid table given our seemingly never ending injury list and the need to bed in so many new players is a quite magnificent achievement and I can’t wait to see us finally field a first choice injury-free eleven. Maybe that will happen early next year and will be something well worth waiting for.