McGinn Fractures Villa’s Survival Hopes

Sunday, December 22 2019


John McGinn’s ankle injury could be the most serious that we have seen in the Premier League this season, not because of the physical damage to the anatomy of his ankle but because of how important he is to Aston Villa’s survival campaign.

Unfortunately, IT IS BREAKING News

Scotland’s player of the year was reported to have suffered an ankle fracture when his studs got stuck in the turf which meant that he was unable to continue. As he hobbled off down the tunnel in pain, I’m sure every Villa fan felt sick to their stomach with worry while they were still hopeful that his removal from play might just be precautionary. Unfortunately, the sickly feeling was justified as Dean Smith later confirmed that McGinn had gone to the hospital for an x-ray and had indeed fractured his ankle.

McGinn: A Rare Commodity in the Modern Game

Villa fans have voiced their outrage on social media speculating that McGinn’s injury was a direct result of Smith’s decision to play him whilst still recovering from a thigh problem which has been hampering him since his involvement with Scotland. McGinn, himself stated via Twitter, that a lot of footballers play with niggles and that his ankle injury was not related, and that nobody was to blame. This tells you everything you need to know about McGinn: A man who takes responsibility for his own actions, a man who doesn’t blame others for his misfortune, a man of men who you would want on your team sheet every week.

A Picture Paints a 1000 words

Over the next few days, the medical staff at Villa will carry out a number of investigations to assess the extent of the injury. McGinn is certainly going to have an MRI of his foot and ankle to assess the integrity of the ligaments and joint surfaces and also very likely will have a CT Scan to garner more information on the type of fracture he has suffered. It is common practice in professional football to consult with an external specialist ankle surgeon to assess whether if he is a surgical candidate or not. Surgery is performed if the surgeon considers that the fracture will not heal well as was the case of Willy Boly the Wolverhampton Wanderers defender.

Common Ankle breaks and fractures

The three bones specific to the ankle joint that can be affected are:

  • The tibia or shinbone
  • The fibula, which is the thinner of the two lower leg bones.
  • The talus, which is a small, wedge-shaped bone that is located deep in the ankle and supports both the tibia and the fibula.

Prognosis: How will he be sidelined for?

Data on ankle injuries from Ben Dinnery at Premier Injury shows us that injuries to the ankle are very prevalent, costly but surprisingly don’t cause a lot of days of time loss; however, I suspect that McGinn will be out for a lot longer than 25 days!! It is very difficult to forecast how long McGinn will be out for at this early stage. It could range anywhere between 4 to 6 weeks for a simple, uncomplicated fibula fracture with no associated ligament or joint damage. At the other end of the spectrum, it could take anywhere upwards of 6 months for a more severe injury where there is damage to the joint surface, ligaments and fibula/tibia which requires surgery. Let’s hope for McGinn, and Villa, that it’s the former, and not the latter.

The Rehab Journey

Recovering from a foot and ankle injury is not quite as smooth or as plain sailing as it is from other injuries as it comprises of 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. Following damage to the ankle is not uncommon to suffer from longstanding limited movement of the ankle joint, stiffness, reduced strength of the muscles of the lower leg, and an inability to tolerate the physical demands of the Premier League through the foot and ankle. One of the most critical aspects of the rehab journey early on is to try and maintain some sort of weight-bearing through the ankle if possible. This can be assisted by wearing a walking boot and/or mobilising with crutches so that at least some of the weight of the body is still going through the ankle joint to encourage optimal healing, limit the effects of stiffness and loss of range of movement and maintain muscle strength as much as possible. I’ve detailed the task-based criteria rehab journey that he is likely to go through in a piece I wrote recently about Paul Pogba’s ankle injury. You can check it out here

Over the coming few weeks, I will write in more detail, to give you a further insight into McGinn and what it is like to recover from an ankle injury as a professional footballer.

I hope you enjoyed the read, please feel free to get in touch via twitter if you have any pressing questions.

Merry Christmas

Johnny Wilson

Ben Dinnery

Ben Dinnery


Ben is football’s leading injury specialist. The ‘go-to’ guru for big hitters like Sky Sports, ESPN and NBC Sports when they need data. Or the BBC, talkSPORT and the broadsheets when a quote is required. His unique insight has helped provide a better understanding of what is really happening in the treatment rooms.

Johnny Wilson

Johnny Wilson


Johnny is a respected physiotherapist and sports scientist, specialising in football injuries and rehab. Johnny has headed up the medical departments at Chesterfield, Scunthorpe and Notts County. Overseeing everything from player-specific training loads to pre-signing medicals. He has a proven record working with elite athletes in Private Practice and is regularly called upon throughout Europe to deliver presentations on the latest rehab innovations.

Matt Nesbitt

Matt Nesbitt On TipTV


Matt's short, unremarkable football career was ended by his own bad driving. His long, distinguished career as a football tipster was ended by his own good advice. Because bookmakers don’t like a winner. First, they closed his accounts. Then his members’ accounts. Then his tipping service. And now they employ him as a consultant. Funny old game.


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