The Chronicle reported on Monday that Papiss Cisse will miss the rest of the season with a broken kneecap, sustained in Saturday's loss to Swansea City. Lee Ryder's report mentions that Cisse may have trouble returning to the team in time for the beginning of next season.
I found frustratingly little information about his injury in any of the papers, so I turned to my own injury expert: my wife, a trauma nurse who has worked in the emergency room of a renowned Level One Trauma Center. She agreed to speak with me about patella fractures, but she stressed over and over that she was not an orthopedist or physical therapist, nor did she know anything in particular about the injury or the player, other than what I told her. So, the following quotes shouldn't be treated as gospel in regards to Papiss Cisse, but should instead be treated as general information about the injury so that we can better understand what lies ahead for him. Below are the highlights of what she told me:
- "Some of the nastiest injuries we saw at [hospital name redacted] were patella fractures. Usually when it happens, it's a direct impact injury, and you don't need an X-ray to see that it's broken. (points at her knee) It's top of kneecap, big ol' hole, bottom of kneecap. Anybody who ever came in with one was in horrible pain. It's pretty much an automatic surgical fix."
- Could he be ready to play in about four months? "If the patella is cracked and not fully fractured, he's got a much better chance. Receiving world-class health care will probably help, but four months sounds awfully optimistic. Patella fractures are tough for anybody. The fact that this guy makes his living running around and kicking a ball with his feet and legs makes me think his recovery time will actually be longer than normal."
- On his long-term prospects: "A large percentage of people who fracture their patella develop debilitating arthritis in the knee. I wouldn't be surprised if his career was shortened as a result."
Again, this is speculation, but I'm hopeful that this will give us some information about Papiss Cisse's potential road to recovery. From what my wife told me, a return to football at the outset of the 2014-15 season for Cisse would seem to be a very good outcome, and we should probably be prepared for his rehabilitation to last longer than that.
If there is any good news, it's that Newcastle are already preparing to buy a striker over the summer, according to Ryder. Cisse hasn't been in the best of form anyway, so this would have been a prudent move in any case, but now it becomes imperative (or even more so, depending on your perspective). It's safe to say that no team will be eager to pay anything close to market value for him, so the injury at least ends a summer of speculation about his eventual destination.
The bottom line, at least for me: Cisse is under contract through the 2016-17 season, so I doubt that he's played his last game in a Newcastle shirt. However, it may be quite a while before we see him again. I would never wish for an injury to a player, and this looks particularly bad for a player that I still like, despite his recent struggles. However, this unfortunate circumstance has the side effect of forcing Newcastle to move on instead of hoping for a miraculous return to his insane 2011-12 form.