Premier League football made its welcome return last week following the enforced suspension of the season, and the first round of fixtures saw several notable names included after lengthy spells on the sidelines.
The rescheduling of England’s top tier has handed a collection of stars a chance to feature during the run-in after previously be expecting to miss the remainder of the campaign, and we’ve decided to assess the initial impact of those making long-awaited returns.
Here are our ratings of five Premier League players who returned from long-term injury this week:
Tottenham are amongst a host of sides to have returned to action in infinitely better shape in terms of fitness, the club having endured a woeful run of form prior to the season’s suspension amid an ever-growing injury list.
Son-Heung Min and Moussa Sissoko both made welcome returns to the side against Manchester United on Friday night, but the most pleasing sight for Spurs’ fans was the inclusion of leading scorer Harry Kane.
The England captain is a talismanic presence for Jose Mourinho’s side and their faint hopes of securing a top four finish are likely to depend on the 26-year-old’s goals, though the forward’s immediate impact was limited during a disappointing individual display.
Unsurprisingly for a player who has failed to feature since New Year’s Day, Kane looked seriously short of match fitness and spent much of the contest on the periphery. Mourinho left his leading goal threat on throughout given his ability to win games, but were Spurs really better off with a half-fit Kane struggling to lead the line?
Spurs face struggling West Ham tonight and Kane is likely to once again be included in the starting XI, and Mourinho will hope the two-time Golden Boot winner can produce a much improved display against the relegation-threatened Hammers.
Paul Pogba’s season so far had been wrecked by injuries with the midfielder having made just eight appearances in all competitions prior to the suspension of the campaign.
The World Cup winner made his highly-anticipated return to the Manchester United squad for Friday’s trip to Tottenham but was made to wait for his opportunity, coming off the bench for the final 27 minutes of the 1-1 draw with the north London side.
Pogba had failed to feature since Boxing Day but was excellent during his brief cameo appearance, completing 94% of his passes and winning the penalty for Bruno Fernandes’ equaliser with a surging run into the Spurs box.
The 27-year-old linked up well with the aforementioned Fernandes and the quality of that midfield pairing is likely to raise optimism ahead of the remainder of the season, Pogba showcasing his fine passing range with an exquisite pass over the top for Marcus Rashford.
This Paul Pogba pass was a bona fide work of art 🎨pic.twitter.com/Pqbg5Wo6mc
— Goal (@goal) June 21, 2020
Aston Villa’s hopes of surviving this season have been hugely boosted by the timely return of McGinn from injury, the Scotland international having been a major miss for the struggling side after suffering a fractured ankle in December.
McGinn returned for the goalless draw with Sheffield United before starting once more in the defeat to Chelsea on Sunday, with the midfielder producing two typically industrious displays as he covered a huge amount of ground for Dean Smith’s side.
McGinn’s energy and desire to get forward saw him regularly come close to providing the finishing touches to attacking moves for Villa, and his return is a huge plus ahead of their relegation run-in.
Smith will hope the returning 25-year-old can alleviate some of the pressure on captain Jack Grealish, the two having starred on occasion this season and both likely to remain in the Premier League regardless of the outcome of Villa’s battle to beat the drop.
Bournemouth’s return to action saw the club suffer a disappointing home defeat to Crystal Palace, a result which leaves Eddie Howe’s side in the bottom three ahead of a difficult looking run of fixtures.
The situation for the Cherries may look bleak at present, but the return of David Brooks could add some much needed spark and creativity to a side which has struggled for goals so far this season.
The Welsh international has missed the entirety of the season so far following a serious ankle injury suffered in pre-season, though he made his return by playing an hour of the defeat to Palace at the Vitality Stadium.
Brooks completed six dribbles and two key passes during his time on the pitch, and whilst rustiness is expected it was a promising show from a player who has been sorely missed by Bournemouth.
The 22-year-old scored seven goals and provided five assists during a hugely promising debut season in the Premier League last term, and hopes will be high the classy creator can prove influential to the club’s chances of survival.
1 – David Brooks is making his first Premier League appearance of the season, last featuring against Southampton in April 2019. Brooks scored seven goals and provided five assists in the 2018-19 campaign for the Cherries. Boost. pic.twitter.com/7Az3r1cOuq
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2020
Another player who has missed every fixture so far this season, Loftus-Cheek has had to watch on from the sidelines throughout Frank Lampard’s debut season in charge of Chelsea.
The England international suffered a serious Achilles injury during a post-season friendly in the US last May, but was handed a starting opportunity against Aston Villa following a long road of rehabilitation.
Loftus-Cheek’s injury was an untimely set-back following a career-best season last term, the midfielder finally showing signs of his vast potential with ten goals in all competitions during the 2018/19 campaign.
BREAKING: Ruben Loftus-Cheek starts for Chelsea for the first time since seriously injuring his achilles in May 2019 pic.twitter.com/LG7VINGYC0
— B/R Football (@brfootball) June 21, 2020
His return against Villa saw him demonstrate the pace, power and energy which can make him a unique proposition in the Chelsea midfield, though he understandably looked rusty in his first appearance for 403 days.
Where the midfielder’s versatile talents fit into this Chelsea side also remain to be seen, and the 24-year-old will be seeking to find his rhythm in the coming fixtures as he looks to cement his position at Stamford Bridge.