Sean Longstaff will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury picked up during Newcastle’s 2-0 loss to West Ham this past weekend.
It has been revealed by The Chronicle that a specialist confirmed that the 21-year-old suffered slight tears in his knee ligaments. The length of the injury is expected to be six to eight weeks, which refutes the claim making the rounds on Twitter that the midfielder will be out for 4 months.
Ciaran Kelly of The Chronicle spoke with Longstaff and confirmed the injury is not severe enough to warrant surgery.
Told Sean Longstaff 'will be fine' and in decent spirits after getting a timeframe on his recovery from a knee ligament injury. Won't need an operation which is a big plus. Been a remarkable few months for him and will come back stronger. #nufc— Ciaran Kelly (@CiaranKelly__) March 7, 2019
The club believes that he will not make a return to first team action this season, or any competitive play at all this season. The Chronicle claims that NUFC believes he will likely be able to return to training before the season ends.
The club released a statement earlier in the day confirming that the youngster will likely miss the rest of the season, but were not specific as to what the injury was and what his recovery time would be.
The statement reads as follows: “ The 21-year-old – who has been shortlisted for the Premier League’s Player of the Month for February – was replaced at half time during Saturday’s Premier League game at West Ham United.
Academy graduate Longstaff has made 13 appearances in all competitions for the Magpies this term, scoring twice.”
Longstaff’s injury now forces Rafa to reconsider his midfield options as the pair of Longstaff and Hayden has finally run its course. Rafa has the rest of his midfielders fully fit as it is believed Jonjo Shelvey is finally healthy enough for team selection, joining the already healthy Ki and Diame. This depth is an unexpected luxury for a team that previously clearly struggled without Jonjo Shelvey or Mo Diame in the midfield.
Rafa must consider not only current form and practice performance, but also the chemistry of his midfield pairings. While Isaac Hayden has put in a number of excellent performances, without Longstaff he does lack the chemistry that another midfield option may have. Ki and Diame were a main stay in the midfield when Shelvey went down with injury, while Diame and Shelvey have been the mainstay midfield pairing for almost 2 years now. Additionally, Shelvey and Ki played alongside each other at Swansea for years, and the prospect of pairing them together has probably crossed the mind of Benitez at least once or twice.
For Longstaff, the big concern will be whether he can deal with the mental hardship of dealing with a long term injury. Longstaff’s Cinderella season where he finally broke into the first team, scored his first goals for the club, and was even being considered for England call ups was cut short by injury. This of course could have an effect on Longstaff as he rehabilitates his knee, as losing out on your dream, even temporarily is something.
Longstaff is also dealing with a somewhat serious injury for the first time in his professional career. Injuries affecting athlete’s mental health and performance is a phenomenon that has been studied time and time again in the academic spectrum of Sport Psychology. It is something that many fans point out without thinking too much about it. Often times fans may find themselves saying “Player x just has not been the same since they got injured”. One example of this is the NBA player Derrick Rose, who until this season has looked like a shell of himself due to the various injuries that have riddled his career.
It is not likely that something like this happens to Sean Longstaff because this injury is not that serious in its nature, but it is possible for a young player to struggle with the mental ramifications of injury even if it seems minor in nature. Former #1 overall pick in the NBA draft and current Orlando Magic player Markelle Fultz has struggled for two seasons coming back from what was thought to be a minor shoulder injury. Although fully fit, the player has seemingly forgotten how to shoot and many people have thought this could be due to the mental pressure put under him to perform now that he is healthy, or the mental barriers he might be facing trying to come back from an injury.
Luckily for Longstaff he has the mentorship of Florian Lejeune who went through a similar injury earlier in the season and has come back as one of the best players in the team. This should help Longstaff deal with the physical and mental ramifications of dealing with his injuries.
Regardless, everyone hopes for a speedy recover for Sean, as he has given fans a sliver of hope in what has been a stressful season to say the least.