Jack Wilshere and 25 Players Who Will Put Injuries Behind Them This Season

Mark Jones@@Mark_Jones86Featured ColumnistAugust 22, 2014

Jack Wilshere and 25 Players Who Will Put Injuries Behind Them This Season

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    The red card for Aaron Ramsey in Arsenal's goalless Champions League play-off match against Besiktas has placed extra emphasis on Jack Wilshere in the second leg.

    The England midfielder is bidding to put yet another disappointing spell on the sidelines behind him, and while he wasn't able to do that during his poor World Cup, this season certainly offers him the chance to impress in what is a newly confident Arsenal side.

    Wilshere heads a list of players for whom 2014/15 is a crucial year following injury spells, and here are 25 of them:

Stevan Jovetic

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    After something of a nightmare first season in English football at least ended with a Premier League winners' medal, Manchester City's Stevan Jovetic enjoyed a fine pre-season as he bids to have a better time of it this time around.

    The Montenegrin started City's opening league game of the season at Newcastle, and with Alvaro Negredo injured he looks set to be a crucial player for Manuel Pellegrini.

Jack Rodwell

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    After making just 16 Premier League appearances in two seasons at Manchester City, Jack Rodwell has flown the nest this summer and will now look to resurrect his career at Sunderland.

    In the end his frequent City absences were a lot to do with competition for places as opposed to injuries, but fitness problems have certainly dogged his career. He'll be desperate to put them behind him at the Stadium of Light.

Erik Lamela

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    A nightmare first campaign at Tottenham Hotspur will hopefully be quickly forgotten about for Erik Lamela's sake, and although the Argentinean had a minimal impact on the opening day win at West Ham, he is certainly still good enough to eventually impress.

    Still just 22, Lamela will hope to get somewhere near the stunning form he showed for Roma in 2012/13, when he scored 15 Serie A goals for the Giallorossi.

Kieran Gibbs

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    This isn't exactly perfect timing given that Kieran Gibbs is, you guessed it, out injured at the moment, but the Arsenal left-back should return next month, and the signs are that he'll be able to consistently take his place in the Arsenal side.

    The international retirement of Ashley Cole also gives Gibbs an opportunity to make a run at the England squad.

Charles N'Zogbia

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    There were double takes all round when Charles N'Zogbia was named in the Aston Villa team for their opening-day win at Stoke, as a nightmare 14 months finally came to an end for the Frenchman.

    An Achilles tendon injury sustained when he was on holiday in June last year had ensured that the once-promising winger became one of football's forgotten men, but he's back in Paul Lambert's plans now and could be a crucial player for Villa this season.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

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    The career of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been pockmarked by injuries, with the latest coming on the eve of England's World Cup campaign and ensuring that he didn't play a minute in Brazil.

    When he's fit and firing he's a fine player, though, and hopefully Arsenal's signing of Shad Forsythe, the American fitness coach who worked with Germany this summer, will help him stay in shape.

Theo Walcott

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    Amid all of the Arsenal excitement at the signing of Alexis Sanchez, the presence of Theo Walcott at the Emirates Stadium has almost been forgotten about.

    According to the Daily Mail, the 25-year-old has been training alone as he bids to pick up some sharpness after a six-month absence, and he's targeting a return to the first team in the coming weeks.

Martin Kelly

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    It's not so much a return to fitness that will help new Crystal Palace signing Martin Kelly show his true self this season, but more an increase in opportunities.

    Injuries did limit the right-back and sometime centre-back's chances at Liverpool, but now he's moved to south London he'll be determined to nail down a spot in the team and to show the form that once led to him breaking into the England squad for the Euro 2012 finals.

Bryan Oviedo

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    A broken leg meant that Bryan Oviedo couldn't be a part of Costa Rica's fantastic World Cup adventure, but the popular Everton man is nearing a return to full fitness and will soon be challenging for a place in Roberto Martinez's team again.

    Oviedo scored Everton's winner at Old Trafford last season, and he'll be eager to get back to impressing Blues fans who have quickly taken him to their hearts.

Steven Pienaar

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    Another fans' favourite at Goodison, South African Steven Pienaar had a campaign to forget in 2013/14, despite the relative success of his club.

    Pienaar only scored one goal over the campaign and was troubled by various problems, but with Ross Barkley out injured and his left-side partnership with Leighton Baines to get going again, he should have a much better time of it this season.

Darron Gibson

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    An impressive start to Darron Gibson's Everton career was cut down by a knee injury sustained for the Republic of Ireland last September that ruled him out of the rest of Everton's season.

    Gibson didn't feature in Everton's opening-day draw at Leicester, but it surely won't be long before we see him in action for the Blues again after he took an active part in pre-season.

Jose Enrique

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    Jose Enrique missed out on all the fun of Liverpool's title challenge last season following an injury in October, but he's now returned to a much more competitive fight for his place.

    The signing of Alberto Moreno and the presence of the likes of Glen Johnson and Jon Flanagan at Anfield will make that a tough fight to win, but when he's fit he can be one of the better left-backs in the Premier League, even if he might have to leave Liverpool to prove that now.

Matija Nastasic

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    Manchester City's 2012/13 Young Player of the Year only played 13 times in the Premier League last season due to a combination of injuries and Manuel Pellegrini's preference for the more experienced Martin Demichelis.

    The signing of Eliaquim Mangala might push him out even more in this campaign, but if the Serb decided to take his talents elsewhere, someone would be getting a very talented centre-back.

Darren Fletcher

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    It's not injury but rather illness that has halted Darren Fletcher's career so drastically in the past couple of years, but the Scot is now back and has been rewarded for his determination by being given the vice-captaincy at Manchester United by Louis van Gaal.

    Fletcher played in United's opening-day defeat to Swansea, and he looks set to have an important role to play this season given United's lack of options and the injury to Michael Carrick.

Ryan Taylor

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    A favourite of the Newcastle fans, Ryan Taylor's career has seemingly ground to a halt ever since a cruciate knee ligament injury in the Europa League two years ago.

    Now 30, the utility man famed for his free-kicks is believed to be near to making a return to the first team, with the Newcastle Chronicle reporting that he has been back in training since late April in a bid to finally fully recover.

Sergio Aguero

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    It was a stop-start end to the Premier League season and the World Cup for Sergio Aguero, but when he's fit there's absolutely no doubting his ability as one of the finest forwards in world football.

    Having returned to the team with a goal at Newcastle, the Argentina star looks primed and ready to spearhead the champions' attempts at defending their crown.

Aaron Ramsey

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    Just what would have happened to Arsenal's 2013/14 season had they had Aaron Ramsey fit for all of it is a question that they will still be pondering over at the Emirates Stadium, but with the Welshman now back and firing for the Gunners, they can simply just enjoy watching him.

    One of the standout players of last season until his injury in December, there is nothing to suggest that Ramsey can't go and do the same again.

Alejandro Faurlin

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    You could argue that the classy Alejandro Faurlin has never really recovered from the cruciate ligament injury he sustained in January 2012, during Queens Park Rangers' first season back in the Premier League after he'd excelled with them over two campaigns in the Championship.

    After a loan move to Palermo and other injuries he's now back in the QPR team, and he started their opening-day home defeat to Hull. 

Andros Townsend

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    Injury forced winger Andros Townsend to miss out on a place in the England World Cup squad after he'd helped them get there, and although he faces a battle for a place in the Tottenham team it certainly looks to be a battle he's up for.

    Pacy and direct, he appears well-suited to speed up the patient, probing style of play that Mauricio Pochettino will look to implement at Spurs.

Robert Huth

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    A knee injury last November ended the uncompromising Robert Huth's 2013/14 season far too early, but the big German defender is now back and ready to try to force his way back into Mark Hughes' Stoke City side.

    Huth was an unused substitute for the opening-day loss at home to Aston Villa, but he'll feel that it won't be long before he's back slotting in alongside Ryan Shawcross in defence.

Steven Fletcher

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    Disruptive injuries meant that Steven Fletcher could never really get going during the 2013/14 season, when he scored just three goals and watched on as Fabio Borini and Connor Wickham led Sunderland's successful fight for survival.

    With Borini having not joined the club permanently and Wickham a target for Crystal Palace, according to the Daily Mirror, the Scot could step up during this campaign and started the opening-day draw at West Brom.

Neil Taylor

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    Neil Taylor has been playing catch-up ever since he sustained a broken ankle early on in the 2012/13 season, with the emergence of Ben Davies seeing the younger man take Taylor's left-back slot for both Swansea and Wales.

    With Davies' form now taking him to Tottenham, Taylor has the chance to re-establish himself at Swansea, and he's taken no time to do just that. 

Sebastian Coates

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    The small army of centre-backs at Liverpool means that Uruguay's Sebastian Coates will almost certainly have to leave to try to re-find some of his early promise, and any club searching for a centre-back should certainly take a look at him.

    Coates didn't appear once for Liverpool last season due to a knee injury, but he looked fit in pre-season and must now be angling for a move.

Winston Reid

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    West Ham certainly missed Winston Reid when he wasn't available last season, and the New Zealander's current state of fitness should be something for Hammers supporters to cheer for.

    Reid is a vital cog in Sam Allardyce's machine, and he'll again be a vital player for the east Londoners after he started the opening-day loss at home to Tottenham.

Jack Wilshere

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    The new faces brought in at Arsenal might now mean that there is less pressure on Jack Wilshere, who has had to get used to getting outshone by the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil recently.

    Playing a little deeper and allowing Ramsey to bomb forward could just be the best move for him, though, and if he can stay fit there's no reason to believe that both he and his club can't have encouraging seasons.