Matthew Bates may be the unluckiest player in football at the minute as he has suffered a cruciate ligament injury for the fifth time in his career.
The injury will keep the promising centre back on the sidelines for yet another six months and it will be very difficult for the player to keep up his own moral and spirits as he may not come back the player he has been this season.
The 25 year old has been at Middlesbrough his whole career so far but was linked with moves away last summer and Swansea in particular were very keen on giving him a chance in the Premier League. He had hoped that his form would propel Boro up the league table and challenge for promotion this season and play for his boyhood club again in the Premier League against the big teams like Manchester United and Arsenal.
He actually made his debut in the 2004-05 season and has only played 120 games for the club which is remarkable and shows just how much his injuries have slowed down his career. This season, it looked as though he had got over all of his problems as he had played more than ever before in a single season and was named new captain by manager Tony Mowbray who must have seen similarities in the way Bates plays and the way he was when he was a player for Boro. Even more worrying for the player is that his contract is up at the end of the season and his latest setback will keep him out until October so no other team will want to take a chance on him. He will have to hope that Boro will give him another opportunity to get fit or there is a chance that he may never get a chance in the professional game again.
Personally I hope he does because he has proven this season that he is at least good enough for the Championship and was looking very consistent as Boro pushed for a place in the playoff spots. Not only is it a bad thing for the player personally but for the club as well because they don’t have the biggest of squads anyway and would have needed all their players to be fit from now until the end of the season. They have recalled Stephen McManus from his loan spell at Bristol City but this will not fill the fans with confidence because he came with quite a good reputation from his time in Scotland but has not really delivered. However, if he does step up and has a good end to the season he could easily become a fans favourite and may be first choice at the start of next season which will then lead to the question, do we need Matthew Bates? Injuries are a cruel part of the game and it has ruined many players’ careers but to have the same sort of major injury five times has got to be hard for anyone but at least he knows he can come back, let’s just hope it is to a good standard.