By Adam Hicks.
Owen Hargreaves has suffered another setback in his battle to regain fitness after injuring his shoulder in training.
The midfielder is reported to have damaged ligaments after challenging for a header and falling awkwardly, he now faces a further month on the sidelines.
It was hoped the 30 year-old would be available for Man United’s run-in after he was named in the 25- man squad at the end of the transfer window and had begun training with the first-team.
Hargreaves had made his first start since 2008 against Wolves at Old Trafford earlier in the season but lasted just six minutes after tearing his hamstring.
Since arriving from Bayern Munich in 2007 Hargreaves has spent most of his four seasons on the sidelines making just 39 appearances for United. The midfielder has undergone surgery on both knees to cure tendinitis and has been hampered by groin and hamstring injuries.
All but five of Hargreaves’ appearances for United came in his first season as he played an important role in helping United win the League and European cup in 2008.
But the England midfielder’s injury woes began at the start of his second season at Old Trafford as he continued to suffer with patellar tendinitis limiting him to only three appearances that year. After making a long awaited return as a substitute in United’s penultimate game of the season against Sunderland in May 2010, Hargreaves would still miss the start of the 2010/11 through injury.
This latest setback will now keep the former Bayern Munich midfielder out of action until early May.
Born in Canada, Hargreaves moved to Germany in 1997 to join Bayern Munich spending two years with the U-19 s before being promoted to the Bayern B team. He then made his first Bundesliga start in the 2000/01 season which was hugely successful for German club.
Hargreaves was part of the team that clinched the Bundesliga and Champions league which included a Quarter-Final triumph over Manchester United, although Hargreaves did not feature in either of the two legs. Despite only playing 4 times in Bayern’s Champions League triumph he did start the second leg of the Semi-Final and the Final in Milan.
Over the next couple of seasons Hargreaves established himself as a regular in Bayern’s midfield and went on to win the German league and Cup double in 2003 but suffered a number of injuries along the way. He tore his thigh muscle in September, and then tore his calf the following month before suffering adductor problems towards the end of the season.
Hargreaves enjoyed a successful period at Bayern winning four league titles, three German cups and the Champions League. But a broken leg sidelined him for most of his final season at Bayern in 2006/07 before he joined United in the summer for £17m.
After making his international debut as a substitute in a 2-0 defeat to the Netherlands at White Hart Lane in 2001, he went on to be selected as part of England’s 2002 World Cup squad. But he picked up an injury just fifteen minutes into England’s group game against Argentina and had to be substituted.
Despite various injuries and setbacks the midfielder has made 42 appearances for his country. He played in Euro 2004 and in the World Cup two years later where he was voted England Player of the Year and England Player of the World Cup but hasn’t played for the national side since 2008.
Hargreaves has enjoyed remarkable success considering his career has been plagued by injuries, winning Europe’s top prize twice and picking up league titles in England and Germany he has proven himself at the very highest level. But as months turn into years, even the most loyal of fans will fear they will never see Hargreaves in a red shirt again.
United will be relieved the setback is not a reoccurrence of any previous injury but with the midfielder’s contract expiring in June the club face a tough decision, whether to renew his deal or to simply cut their losses.
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