Aston Villa were hit with a hammer blow early on against Brighton this afternoon, with Chelsea loanee Ross Barkley being forced off with a suspected hamstring injury.
Barkley, who was electric as a teenager at Everton, showing shades of Wayne Rooney, tailed off a tad and never really got going after departing the Toffees to sign for Chelsea.
Despite showing signs of recovery under Frank Lampard last term, the arrival of Kai Havertz further complicated his route into the starting eleven, with Barkley departing on loan to Aston Villa late in the transfer window.
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Barkley has been nothing short of a phenomenon at Villa, with his sensational display in the 3-0 win at the Emirates just the latest in a string of impressive showings from the Englishman.
However, that run of good form as now been disrupted against Brighton.
? Wishing Ross Barkley a speedy recovery after he picked up a hamstring injury for Aston Villa
— AiScore (@AIScoreOfficial) November 21, 2020
While it would be unfair to pin the blame on Dean Smith, BBC reporter Simon Stone claims that he was one of the managers who voted against the five-substitute rule being reinstated.
He may well be regretting that decision now, with injuries of this nature often a result of muscle fatigue.
Dean Smith one of the managers against five subs. Lose Ross Barkley to what looks like a hamstring after two mins today.
— Simon Stone (@sistoney67) November 21, 2020
Not only is this an immeasurable blow for Dean Smith and Aston Villa, but it’s also yet another complication in Barkley’s efforts to force his way back into Gareth Southgate’s England squad.
We can only hope that the damage done to his hamstring is nothing too serious.