England goalkeeper Chris Kirkland has been sent home early from England duty. You can guess the reason – he’s got another injury.
Kirkland is still officially a Liverpool player, but is on loan to Wigan Athletic for six months. The intention is that he’ll not come back to Anfield again as a Liverpool player; the deal will be made permanent in January should Wigan wish to make it so.
For that to happen, Kirkie needs to start making some appearances for them.
This injury is one of his long-standing problems, the reason given by England coach Steve McClaren being that Chris has a “stiff back”. Despite this, and his history of back problems, it’s not considered bad enough to rule him out of Wigan’s next league game next weekend. If this is true then McClaren is already showing signs that he’ll use common sense where players well-being is concerned. On the other hand that next game is against one of the easier sides in England’s group, with a long way still to go. I wonder how much sympathy McClaren will have if he’s got to the stage where his team have to win to qualify.
People understandably call Chris injury-prone, and he couldn’t really deny that. However most of Chris’s injuries have been completely unconnected to each other. His problems are down to sheer bad luck rather than any genetic conditions. He’s got a plate in his finger after breaking it in training one time, and he missed a long spell during his West Brom loan after a collision left him with a badly bruised kidney. He’s had such a long time with bad luck that if there is such a thing as karma he’ll be due a hell of a few good seasons at some point. Don’t be surprised if he helps get Wigan into Europe and even more unlikely, actually helps England to win a penalty shoot-out.
Kirkland should have been involved as one of the subs for Wednesday’s England game but the England and Wigan physios felt that he’d be better off out of it. He’s only got a bit of sciatica, which is painful but probably not enough to stop anyone from playing if they really want to play. The physios also felt that the flight to actually take part in the game would do him more harm than good, especially given the fact he is so tall.
Former Liverpool player, now Wigan manager, Paul Jewell sent thanks to the England camp for allowing Kirkland home: “England did the right thing by letting him stay at home, and we thank them for that.”
Liverpool bosses will also be pleased. No matter how good Kirkland is, there’s just not enough room for him at Anfield, where Pepe Reina is first choice ahead of Jerzy Dudek. The sooner he is off the wage bill the better for all sides. I personally feel that one day Chris could still prove to be England’s number 1 keeper, but he really does need to stop smashing mirrors near black cats.