Bolton Wanderers have had ridiculously bad luck with injuries this season - and for the last four or five seasons for that matter. The mounting injury list has been a major factor in our dwindling form of late, no more so than the injury sustained by Darren Pratley against Wolves at the start of February.
News coming out of the club today suggests that Pratley - who was originally diagnosed with a hamstring injury that would see him ruled out for a month or so - will now miss the remainder of the season as the injury was worse than first expected. Pratley had been enjoying a startling turnaround in form under Neil Lennon, scoring four goals in six matches over the festive period and providing vital drive and energy from midfield.
His loss has clearly hit Bolton hard, as before Saturday's defeat of Brighton we had only won one match in nine without Pratley in the side. But the result against Brighton gives Wanderers fans some hope that there is light at the end of tunnel without Pratley, as Josh Vela put on a superb second-half midfield show. Vela will surely retain that role in tonight's match against Reading, having created Clough's goal and putting in a Pratley-esque performance full of energy and forceful drives from midfield.
The wider concern for Wanderers is why we continue to have such dire luck with injuries. At one point a few weeks ago we had no fewer than TEN first-team players missing through injury, and it's rare that players suffer minor injuries. The number of players suffering severe lay-offs is staggering: Stuart Holden, Chung-Yong Lee, Mark Davies (multiple times), Marc Tierney (several times), Max Clayton and Craig Davies spring to mind and the list goes on and on.
It cannot simply be a coincidence that Pratley has joined this list. A club like Bolton, which it's publicly known has limited resources, cannot afford for a player who hits good to then go and suffer an injury setback but this happens all too frequently at our club. Mark and Craig Davies, Clayton and Pratley are the most obvious cases of this and there's seemingly no real reason why this is happening - but as a fan it's hugely frustrating.
I can't remember the last time we had a fully fit squad where every player was available for selection to the manager. It must be driving Lennon nuts, and it's hugely frustrating for us as supporters to see in-form players repeatedly on the injury table rather than on the pitch. Just imagine how good we could be if we had our entire squad fit for just a few games!