Owen Hargreaves sidelined again but knees aren’t the issue this time

by Ben McAleer

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

It must have been a dream come true for Hargreaves on Saturday for Manchester United’s home fixture against Wolves. Back in the starting XI for the first time since September 2008, his big return was short lived as he lasted five short minutes before pulling up with a hamstring injury that will leave him sidelined for up to five weeks. It is another, unfortunate, set-back for the Canadian born England midfielder who suffers from patellar tendinitis that has restricted his appearances to a measly twenty-seven, with four coming between 2008 and now, since his £17million move from Bayern Munich in 2007.

Yet, during his time in Germany, Hargreaves managed to pull on the Bayern shirt 145 times during his ten year association with the Bavarian outfit with the Manchester United midfielder only missing a substantial chunk of the 2006/07 season due to a broken leg. Injuries never blighted his career at Bayern as he collected a total of ten winner’s medals including one Champions League medal whilst in his first year as a Manchester United player he won the Champions League and Premiership.

It appears as though his patellar tendinitis has only caught up with him since 2008 (having only made four Manchester United appearances and four England appearances) with surgery thought to be the best course of action for the combative midfielder. However, his rehabilitation has seen a number of set-backs with dates pencilled in for Hargreaves to return to the first team fold only for his name to be erased again. Ferguson must be ruing the injury to a player he could utilise in the United starting XI. Yes, United may be second in the league, only two points behind league leaders Chelsea, yet they have thrown away points against Fulham and Everton is the dying embers of said matches where Hargreaves energetic personality and tenacity may have played a role in securing maximum points when they were well within the grasp of the three time Champions League winners.

Hargreaves extended absence must surely be noted on the international stage with Capello not having the chance to pick the Manchester United man for competitive duty as he surely would have been a shoe-in for the 2010 England squad had he been injury free and playing on a regular basis for United. Yet, prior to the 2006 World Cup quarter final, Hargreaves was never seen as an integral part of the England set-up and was often criticised by the media and England fans due as a result of his ten year stint at Bayern Munich and was, at times, considered not good enough to pull on the England shirt. He answered his critics in the penalty shoot-out loss to Portugal picking up the man of the match award and scoring the only penalty in England’s dismal penalty efforts. As a result, Hargreaves picked up the both the England Player of the Year and England Player of the World Cup and can be credited with becoming the first ever England player to do so.

It must be hard for Hargreaves at the moment trying his best to come back from his injuries that have left his Manchester United career more stop than start. His recent hamstring problem is one that, touch wood, he will overcome properly before returning to the Manchester United and England fold and with the Canadian born midfielder in the last year of his contract, he must surely be in last chance saloon if his contract is to be extended beyond 2011.

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