He’s been a firm fans’ favourite from the moment he broke into the first-team back in 2011 but on Saturday, Jonny Williams was forced off with yet another injury whilst playing for Sunderland against QPR.
The Black Cats are currently marooned at the very foot of the Championship table, four points away from fourth-bottom Barnsley with nine games left to play but on Saturday, after starting the aforementioned Williams on the right-hand side of a front three against Ian Holloway’s Hoops, he suffered an injury setback that looks likely to keep him out for around a month.
Having initially struggled to his feet and attempted to play on, it fell to club captain Lee Cattermole to signal the need for Jonny to be replaced in just the 30th minute. I dare say Williams was desperate not to accept the prospect of another long-term spell on the sidelines after the nightmares he’s had over the years but when your body won’t let you continue, it only hurts the rest of your teammates to stay on the field of play.
Sadly, given the midfielder’s stature and style of play, opposition players are simply tempted into kicking him with the sort of regularity that is going to bring with it a raft of bumps, bruises and more. When you consider the rough and tumble nature of football in the lower-reaches of the second tier, it’s no surprise to see other teams kicking lumps out of him whenever he does get the chance to play; not that it makes things any easier for Jonny himself to accept.
It’s an international level, where there is a greater amount of time on the ball and a more nuanced tactical approach to the game where Williams has always flourished. His performances in a Wales shirt (18 full caps and counting) have proven that there is nothing technically stopping him from mixing it with some of the best individual talents within the game but without that level of physical resilience but into him, the heartbreaking reoccurrence of injuries is unlikely to ever fully disappear.
Hopefully Jonny can make it back to match fitness before the season draws to a close and work to secure Sunderland’s place in the Championship for another year but the constant grind of rehabilitative work must be taking its toll on his body and his mind in equal measure.