Gareth Bale was carried off on a stretcher near the end of Spurs Europa League first leg against Basel.
It’s never good form for a manager to cite injuries as a reason why his squad are failing to achieve.
However, the fact remains that losing a key player at a key point in the season can completely alter a team’s fortunes, whether because that player is a key part of the puzzle or because there's a lack of depth behind him—or both.
Here are five players who have been sorely missed by their clubs this season—four of whom have no chance of playing this weekend, and another who faces a Friday fitness test.
No doubt their managers would prefer to have them available for selection, and each of the teams affected could well struggle to accomplish their goals over the run-in to the end of the season.
Tottenham's Gareth Bale was carried off on a stretcher during a 2-2 draw at home to Basel in the Europa League on April 4 and hasn’t played since.
Spurs however, have had two matches since their talisman went down, and ended up drawing both by identical 2-2 scorelines.
Presently fifth in the Premier League—but with a game in hand on fourth-place Arsenal—Spurs will host Manchester City on Sunday and will do so without Bale, who still leads the side with 17 goals in the league this season.
He’s only 21 years old, but Jack Wilshere has already missed a full season (2011-12) with an ankle injury. Despite making a comeback in late October, he continues to be bothered with similar problems—although his latest knock was suffered on his other ankle.
Following Arsenal’s 2-1 loss to Spurs at the beginning of March, Gunners manager Arsene Wenger shut Wilshere down for six weeks in an attempt to get the midfielder fit and ready for the run-in, but the England international visibly struggled against Everton on Tuesday and faces a late fitness test ahead of Saturday’s match at Fulham.
Wilshere is a key young players at the Emirates, and that he has so often been either unavailable or not fully fit has had a thing or two to do with Arsenal’s struggles the past two seasons—particularly as Abou Diaby has also been injured.
Newcastle have had enough problems this season without having to worry about the health of their No. 1 goalkeeper.
But following an ankle injury that kept him out the entire month of March, Tim Krul sustained a separated shoulder in Sunday’s Tyne-Wear derby against Sunderland and will miss the rest of the season.
The Magpies won just three of the seven matches they played without the Dutchman in March and April, and with injuries claiming some important pieces of the back line, they’ll struggle to keep the ball out of the net down the stretch.
It’s likely that Fabricio Coloccini has played his final match for Newcastle.
The Argentine defender broke two bones in his back after landing awkwardly following a clearance against Southampton in late February, and he has been undergoing treatment in South America.
The 31-year-old has also expressed a desire to play out the remainder of his career at San Lorenzo, so it would seem his European career has come to an end.
Without Coloccini in the lineup, Newcastle have won just two of six Premier League matches and have dropped to 13th in the table, just five points above the relegation zone.
Steven Fletcher was taken off the field on a stretcher during Scotland’s match against Wales on March 22 and hasn’t played since.
He recently underwent season-ending surgery, which means Sunderland will have to make do without their go-to striker as they look to avoid relegation.
Fletcher, 26, had scored 11 Premier League goals in 28 appearances prior to the injury, and most recently found the net in a 3-1 loss to Queens Park Rangers on March 9.
With the Black Cats in the 15th spot, just three points above Wigan and the drop zone, they couldn’t have lost their top forward at a worse time of the season.
Even with Fletcher in the lineup, Sunderland managed to score just six goals in the seven matches leading up to his injury.