When it comes to the beautiful game, injuries are of course part and parcel of it. Aside from the trials not to mention tribulations of a side going for promotion or avoiding relegation, an injury can affect a side.
From the moment a player is crocked, it could spell danger for any given team for a number of different reasons. In the first instance, it could mean the difference between winning and losing a game. The effect that one man has on a side could be greater in some cases than the sum of the actual team. On the other hand, some players are so crucial teams that they seem to lose their momentum or are simply not the same footballing animal.
Take for example Manchester United who were without influential midfielder Michael Carrick for a significant period of the season. Under the tutelage of Louis Van Gaal, there were some impressive stats surrounding Carrick which revealed just how big an impact the Reds midfielder had. Without Carrick in the side, United gain less than one point on average. However, when the Tottenham Hotspur man featured in the starting eleven, this amount would increase to more than 2.2 points per game won on average. This also rang out as far as the goals conceded column was concerned with United conceding fewer goals with Carrick in the team.
On top of this, there are also those individuals who cannot seem to shake off a recurring injury or are out for long periods at a time. Through no fault of their own, the injury seems to linger with them in spite of sustained periods of rehabilitation on the specific area. Inconsistency plays a key role as some players fight to regain their place only to have it snatched away from their grasp though another injury. Here is the rundown of the top 15 injury prone players.
15 Kieran Gibbs
Kieran Gibbs has had a few knocks in his time which have ranged from thigh and calf to ankle. The Arsenal left back is known for his marauding runs forward but this has not detracted from his spat of injuries. Gibbs has done several little niggles and has even broken his foot in recent times. This has led to weeks on the sidelines and has broken up a so far promising career.
14 Andy Carroll
Geordie boy Andy Carroll raised a few eyebrows when Liverpool came in for the tall forward. The transfer fee in the region of $50 million was extremely steep and he was actually injured when he made the move to Anfield back in 2011. Unfortunately the move did not work out and he was subsequently shipped down south to West Ham United. Among some of the injuries Carroll has suffered from feature his heel, hamstring, a fractured finger and damaged foot.
13 Stuart Holden
A technically decent player, former Bolton Wanderers player Stuart Holden has been unlucky to a certain extent. The former United States international did actually play in the Premier League for the Trotters but injury dampened a lot of his career. This was largely in part thanks to some awful knee injuries. This included a late tackle by Jonny Evans of Manchester United which put Holden out for some time. He required at least six months to recuperate from that specific knock. Unfortunately he required nearly 18 months to fully recover as a result of Evans tackle. Holden then ruptured a cruciate ligament and was sidelined for a further 12 months and made a handful of appearances in a three year period.
12 Jack Wilshere
He may have come on for a glamour token sub appearance at Wembley for Arsenal in the FA Cup Final but this does not stop Jack Wilshere from appearing on the list. The 4-0 win over Aston Villa may have been the largest winning margin for some twenty odd years but Wilshere has been prone to a host of injuries. Long term absences through niggling ankle injuries have prevented the mini midfielder from fulfilling his genuine potential. In fact he has never managed to break the 30 game barrier during his playing career.
11 Daniel Agger
Liverpool centre back Daniel Agger has seen his fair share of injuries whilst on Merseyside. The tough tackling defender has been at Liverpool for almost a decade but has still only managed to play less than 30 games every season. In 2007, he had to forgo pretty much the entire season due to long standing injuries. Other injuries he has sustained include damage to the calf as well as to the knee, back and even rib area.
10 Kieron Dyer
Former West Ham United, Newcastle United and Queens Park Rangers player Kieron Dyer has been in the footballing wars. Dyer has broken his leg which left him on the sidelines for a considerable amount of time. Meanwhile, he never quite recovered from these particular injuries and coupled with other knee related issues retired from the game. It was at West Ham United where the lack of match time was clearly apparent where Dyer made only 30 appearance in less than five seasons for the Hammers.
9 Dean Ashton
One player who never quite made it due to his amount of injuries was former Crewe striker Dean Ashton. Although he went on to make a semi name for himself when signing for Norwich City and West Ham, his ankle issues forced him to retire. At just the tender age of 26, Ashton had no choice but to hang up his boots after numerous injuries had ended his short career at the top.
8 Abou Diaby
Considered to be one of the most injury-prone midfielders probably of all time is the French and Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby. Playing in the Premier League has its ups and downs as well as its bumps and bruises but Diaby has hardly been seen for the last few years in a Gunners shirt. Now in his late 20s, Diaby has only played around 150 times despite being at the Emirates for nearly 10 years. He has gone down with injury after injury from a blow to his cruciate ligament to calf and thigh injuries. This took place during the 2011-12 campaign and he was also absent for the UEFA Champions League final in 2006. This was down to a fractured ankle.
7 Michael Essien
Former Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien is another player who has seen more bench and table action than most of his former teammates. The Ghanaian international has seen his fair share of knee and leg injuries whilst in the blue of Chelsea. At times, the ex Real Madrid player has faced periods of up to six months out of action and struggled to establish himself under Jose Mourinho. In addition to time missed with his club, Essien was forced to sit out the 2010 World Cup, where his presence surely could have helped a Ghana team that was narrowly eliminated in the quarterfinals.
6 Jonathan Woodgate
After a dream move to the Bernebeu to play for Los Blancos, it should have been all sunshine and roses for Jonathan Woodgate. However, a nightmare performance ensured his day was to end with no smile at all thanks to an own goal and a red card against Athletic Bilbao. His injury plagued career has seen him appear for Leeds United not to mention Middlesbrough which he rejoined in the autumn of his playing days. Despite playing for half a dozen sides, Woodgate only managed to notch up around 350 appearances.
5 Robin van Persie
At Arsenal, Robin van Persie was particularly injury prone having suffered knocks to his hamstring and knee. This of course led to the Dutchman being off the field for many months and caused much frustration among the Gunners faithful. The Dutch striker has fared slightly better after his transfer to Manchester United. Yet, another injury plagued campaign has seen van Persie not reached the same scoring heights when playing for Sir Alex Ferguson.
4 Ledley King
Without doubt one of the best central defenders in the Premier League over the last 10 years, Ledley King had a stop start career. The former Tottenham Hotspur centre half should have been a regular for the England squad had it not been for injuries. King had to cope with a series of crippling knee injuries where he eventually had to forgo training during the week. The pain was so unbearable that he was unable to practice which is testament to the quality of his defensive play.
3 Michael Owen
Anfield legend Michael Owen burst on to the international stage with that goal for England against Argentina in the FIFA 1998 World Cup. Taking place in France, Owen received plenty of plaudits for his pace and skill. Yet hamstring injuries and slight niggles ensured he lost that blistering place and he never recovered. Owen managed to sustain his career and played for the likes of Real Madrid, Newcastle United and finally Stoke City.
2 Darren Anderton
The artist formerly known as "Sicknote" due to the sheer lack of full match action, Darren Anderson ranks high on the list of most injury prone players. In the space of three years, the former Portsmouth player played less than 40 times thanks to several grievances such as a hernia and a groin problem. He did manage to play on till the age of 36 and eventually retired at Bournemouth in 2008.
1 Owen Hargreaves
Former Bayern Munich protege Owen Hargreaves had arguably some of the worst injuries over his playing career. After he moved from Bavaria to Manchester United in 2007, things did not improve at all for the English midfielder. He only managed to pull on the red shirt less than 30 times and even his comeback was cut short. Although he had to endure operations on both knees, Hargreaves comeback at Old Trafford lasted all of six minutes due to a hamstring injury.