Its probably been with caution this time last week that Real Madrid’s medical team released the usual injury report about Eden Hazard’s ankle injury.
The news that an underlying fracture is now known to accompany the right ankle bruising sustained against PSG is unlikely to have come as a surprise to them given that this is one of the complications of injuries of this type.
It can be very easy to dismiss injuries sustained through direct contact mechanisms as ‘only a kick’ and subsequently deeming them less serious than injuries which involve an obvious distortion or dislocation of the parts involved. And even those can sometimes be taken less seriously once the affected part has been put back where it should be.
Although ligamentous injuries traditionally form the bulk of ankle injuries in football, the potential is usually there for injury to the bones to accompany these to some extent; especially when an injury occurs through a combination of direct contact and a twisting movement at the same time.
When Eden Hazard’s injury was sustained, the ankle was already in plantarflexion - i.e. the foot was pointing downwards when the contact was made on the outside of the right ankle in the challenge by his Belgian team mate Thomas Meunier that led to the injury.
In addition to the obvious bruising, the direction of the blow would also result in a twisting or distorting movement, leading to a combination of direct impact to the lateral aspect of the ankle simultaneously accompanied by an inversion movement.
Often the pain and stiffness that occurs both at the time of the injury and in the hours that follow can make an accurate early examination difficult. Swelling and bruising can mask deeper injury to the structures underneath; including muscles, tendons, ligaments, and in Eden’s case the bones themselves.
Real Madrid’s medical team have done what they said they would do and assessed his recovery on an ongoing basis; continuing with their treatment regularly over the last seven days.
Further investigations were arranged as soon as it became apparent that they were dealing with something a lot more serious than an average contusion or sprain.
Eden himself will have had a part to play in the diagnostic process. He’ll have been keeping the medical people updated and it’s likely that his ankle won’t have felt a lot different on Wednesday to how it was this time last week.
Taking into account the length of time that’s passed since he sustained the injury will be one of the factors that will have helped to raise suspicions about the presence of an underlying bony injury if little or no improvement has been noted.
The other will be the undoubted tenderness directly over the injured area and an overall lack of improvement in general.
The news about the presence of a small microfracture isn’t entirely unxpected. These are known to occur with ankle injuries arising from the way Eden Hazard sustained his.
Zinedine Zidane himself even told the assembled media after the PSG game that they would know more about the full extent of Eden’s injury in a week’s time; which brings us up to where we are at the moment.
The end result is that Eden is now going to be out until January. It won’t be surprising though if everyone is a hesitant to put an exact date on when his return will be since the healing process depends on a number of things including how different structures such as bones and ligaments injured will heal at different rates.
Where bone tissue is involved, the length of the recovery period is based on the actual density of the bone and not the calendar; so further scans nearer the time of Eden’s return will determine whether the fractured area has healed sufficiently enough to allow a return to play or not.
This is one of those scenarios where an injury sometimes sounds worse than it actually is.
Although still a nasty injury, the logical process followed by Real Madrid’s medical team in continually assessing the injury and responding accordingly to their findings should result in Eden making a complete recovery in due course.