How will the coronavirus pause affect injured stars?

Paul Pogba, Harry Kane and Eden Hazard are among the European stars currently out injured… so how will the coronavirus pause affect their recoveries and could their teams benefit when the leagues restart?

  • Europe’s leading leagues have been paused indefinitely because of coronavirus
  • A number of top players are currently recovering from injuries and surgery
  • Paul Pogba and Harry Kane are among the players closing in on full fitness
  • But pushing the season back could actually work in some clubs’ favour
  • For example, Barcelona could have Suarez and Dembele back for resumption 
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Football has entered the great unknown with all professional fixtures in Europe’s major leagues suspended until at least the start of next month because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Premier League and their counterparts in several countries are on pause until the killer virus is under control, with so many questions to be answered over how the season should be concluded.

But for those footballers who were already on the sidelines through injury, the pause offers a potential opportunity to complete their recovery and rehabilitation without missing any games.

Sportsmail takes a look at some of the stars currently out through injury, how close they are to a return and what could happen next. 

Paul Pogba (Manchester United)

The French midfielder was getting nearer to a return having missed the majority of the season with ankle and foot injuries.

Pogba last played for United on Boxing Day but then required ankle surgery and he has since completed a slow and steady rehabilitation, spending some of his time in the warmer climes of Dubai.

Manchester United’s Paul Pogba last played on Boxing Day and has been recovering following ankle surgery – but the French midfielder was closing in on a return

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hinted last week that Pogba was closing in on a return to training with the expectation being he would have returned early next month after the international break.

But of course now nobody knows when the Premier League – and the UEFA Europa League for that matter – will resume so Pogba may find his rehabilitation continuing without any match action for some time.

Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)

United’s 19-goal leading scorer aggravated an existing back injury during the FA Cup third round replay against Wolves back on January 15 and hasn’t played since.

Rashford had struggled with back problems for some time but then suffered a double stress fracture that required immediate attention.

The expectation initially was that the 22-year-old would miss the remainder of United’s season and was a potential doubt for England’s Euro 2020 campaign.

Marcus Rashford has been sidelined since January with a back problem but may now be able to return to fitness without missing any more matches

But Solskjaer hinted last month that Rashford could return before the end of the season, though admitted it would be ‘touch and go’.

United have coped fairly well in his absence, with Anthony Martial stepped up and January signings Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo impressing, but now it seems Rashford could well be fit again when football resumes.

And with the expectation that Euro 2020 could be postponed 12 months, England manager Gareth Southgate doesn’t have to worry about being without one of his main strikers.

Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)

We haven’t seen Kane since he limped out of Tottenham’s 1-0 defeat at Southampton on New Year’s Day having ruptured a tendon in his thigh.

Amid a disappointing run of results, Spurs fans were thrilled to see Kane back in training last week, with the striker moving freely in running drills as well as passing and shooting the ball.

Kane had set his own return date of ‘somewhere between the start and the middle of April’ but that now looks set to be delayed.

Harry Kane suffered a thigh injury during Tottenham’s game at Southampton on New Year’s Day and had only just returned to training 

It does, however, ensure that Kane is likely to be able to make a complete recovery without Jose Mourinho being tempted to rush him back and risk a further injury setback.

Again, the likely suspension of the Euros means Southgate won’t have to contend with his best striker not being fully match sharp.

Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur)

With Spurs attempting to continue their training schedules as normal – in contrast to a number of Premier League clubs who have gone into precautionary self-isolation – Son is expected to make a return on Monday.

It comes after the South Korean spent two weeks away from the training ground after returning from Seoul, where he underwent surgery on a fractured forearm.

Son suffered the injury during Spurs’ 3-2 win at Aston Villa on February 16, a game in which he scored twice, and the team haven’t won a game since.

Son Heung-min suffered a painful arm injury during Tottenham’s win over Aston Villa

Even though he is back in the company of his team-mates, Son remains some way from a return to action even if there was any.

If the season picks up where we left off in a few months time, the return of Kane and Son to fitness dramatically changes the dynamic for Spurs, who will suddenly fancy their chances of ending the season on a high note.

Alisson Becker (Liverpool)

Liverpool’s No 1 goalkeeper is sidelined with a hip injury and wasn’t likely to return to action until after the international break.

Unfortunately, his short absence has already proved damaging for Liverpool with his stand-in Adrian making costly errors as they crashed out of the Champions League to Atletico Madrid last week.

At least the suspension of games means Adrian won’t cost them any more points, though Liverpool are of course on the verge of winning their first league championship in 30 years.

Liverpool’s first choice goalkeeper Alisson has missed several games with a hip injury

Tammy Abraham (Chelsea)

Chelsea’s top marksman Abraham had been struggling with an ankle injury for several games until he was forced onto the sidelines for their recent Premier League games against Bournemouth and Everton.

Frank Lampard had said he expected Abraham to be back by the end of March but giving an accurate time frame for his recovery was proving difficult.

Now Abraham can take as long as he needs with Chelsea’s pursuit of a Champions League place very much on hold for the foreseeable future.

Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham has been struggling with an ankle issue for some time

Eden Hazard (Real Madrid)

It looked for all the world as if Eden Hazard, who fractured his ankle during Real Madrid’s surprise defeat to Levante late last month, had seen the back of the 2019-20 season.

But with the season now likely to continue later in the year, Hazard could yet have an impact on Real Madrid’s push for the La Liga title and the Champions League.

There was also the chance that one of the continent’s finest players would miss Euro 2020 for Belgium but it appears we will now be spared that possibility.

Mind you, it may not solve the problem of Hazard struggling for form since making the move to the Bernabeu last summer.

Real Madrid’s Eden Hazard suffered a fractured ankle during their match against Levante

Luis Suarez (Barcelona)

Suarez was reportedly getting close to making a return for Barcelona after undergoing knee surgery in January to fix a persistent meniscus problem.

At the time, the Uruguayan faced six months on the sidelines, ruling him out for the remainder of the campaign.

But reports in Spanish newspaper Diario AS this weekend hinted that Suarez could have been back on a pitch by April – if only there were some fixtures to play.

In a nip and tuck La Liga title race with Real Madrid, Barca would certainly welcome Suarez back with open arms if the league was completed later in the summer.

Barcelona forward Luis Suarez pictured in the gym as he continues his rehab from injury

Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona)

It’s a similar situation at the Nou Camp with Dembele, who was ruled out for at least five months in February after tearing his hamstring.

Despite the setback occurring outside of the designated transfer window, Barcelona were granted permission to sign an emergency striker as a result – Martin Braithwaite.

But Braithwaite isn’t likely to be adding to his three Barcelona appearances for some time and it’s possible that Dembele – and Suarez – will be fit again by the time the Spanish league restarts.

Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele was also on the sidelines with a hamstring injury


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