Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott could play in six months after horror injury, says expert surgeon

Liverpool’s backroom staff have been praised for their swift treatment of wonderkid Harvey Elliott after he suffered a horror injury to his ankle against Leeds United

Elliott, 18, was felled by Pascal Struijk after an hour of the Reds’ match at Elland Road yesterday, resulting in a dislocation and possible break of his ankle.

But expert sports surgeon and Liverpool fan, Mike Hennessey, said the rapid response of the club’s medical team will aid Elliott’s recovery and he should be back on the pitch in six months.

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Reds starlet Harvey Elliott suffered a dislocated ankle  after a tackle from  Pascal Struijk

Liverpool are due to face Manchester United at Anfield on March 19, which heralds a run-in of nine Premier League games, which also feature Manchester City away and Everton at home.

Mr Hennessey, who was among Liverpool’s away support to watch their 3-0 win, told Sportsmail ‘They were on giving him some sedation. It is good analgesia they use now which is inhaled. 

‘It looks like they reduced his ankle [put it back in place] there and then, which is what you need to do because the longer the ankle remains dislocated the more problems there will be for the soft tissue and that then queers your pitch for when you need to fix them. 

‘He had great care. They were straight on.’  

Liverpool’s medical team immediately recognised the seriousness of the injury and were on the pitch in seconds tending to the stricken player, who was visibly in a lot of pain.

Elliott’s ankle was put back in place on the pitch thanks to the rapid response of the Liverpool medical team and the use of a modern drug, called Penthrox, an effective analgesic

The surgeon, who treats top flight footballers and elite sportsmen and women at the London Foot and Ankle Centre, as well as NHS patients at the Wirral University Hospital, said the care of players has improved enormously.

The green bag Elliott could be seen clutching contains a highly effective analgesic drug called, Penthrox, which has been used increasingly in NHS hospitals during the Covid pandemic for orthopeadic procedures when operating theatres were less accessible.

‘To get a dislocation it means you have disrupted several bits, he has either broken the bones on both sides or broken the bone on one side and torn the major ligaments on the inside,’ said Mr Hennessey. ‘Either way it is a major injury.’

He added: ‘They have got guys there at the pitch-side who can sort it out these days.

‘There are pitch-side doctors, the physios are all trained in sports injuries and know what to do in emergencies.

‘I was delighted when I saw Penthrox. That means they can manipulate things back into place, rather than wheeling him off with the foot still pointing in the wrong direction.’ 

A debate has raged over whether Struijk (pictured) should have been sent off for the challenge

Players and staff from both sides (shown above) were visibly shaken by the shocking incident

This rapid response dramatically reduces the swelling around the injury so that surgery can take place more quickly, aiding recovery and rehabilitation, said Mr Hennessey.

He said that with reduced swelling Elliott could be in surgery this week and playing again in six months and the player would be expected to make a full recovery.

According to The Athletic, it is believed Elliott will undergo surgery on Tuesday and begin the rehab process shortly after.  

After an operation, Elliott will face six weeks rehabilitation and physiotherapy without putting weight on the joint, a further six weeks of some weight bearing activities, including hydrotherapy, and three months light training before he can return to the pitch, hopefully in March.

‘He is young. He is a professional athlete in top condition and will not have any healing issues,’ said Mr Hennessey.

Elliott posted on Instagram shortly after the incident, saying he was on the ‘road to recovery

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The former Fulham youngster, who has been hailed as a bright talent for Liverpool and the English game making four top-flight appearances this season, was taken to Leeds General Infirmary and later discharged.

In a wonderful gesture, Elliott gifted his Liverpool match shirt and a worn boot to a young boy, who was in hospital with a broken arm.

Writing on Instagram on Monday, Elliott said: ‘I’m of course absolutely devastated with what happened yesterday at Leeds, but have been totally overwhelmed by the love and support shown to me by the entire football world following the injury.

‘Thank you so much to everyone who has reached out or sent messages to me and my family – it means so much to us. Also, a massive thanks to everyone inside Elland Road for the reception you gave me immediately after it happened.

‘I am now fully focused on my recovery and will give everything in my rehabilitation to be back out there as soon as I can. I know I have an incredible support network behind me at Liverpool and together we will get through this.

‘To all of the Liverpool fans: your support means the world to me. I’m one of you and I can’t wait to be back faster, fitter and stronger to help the team in the future. You’ll Never Walk Alone!’

Leeds defender Struijk meanwhile has said that he is ‘gutted’ about the situation and that he ‘would never wish’ such an injury on anyone.

Struijk was sent off by referee Craig Pawson following the incident. 

Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips (No 23, centre) was one of the players to react to Elliott’s injury

Struijk is ‘gutted’ about the situation and that he ‘would never wish’ such an injury on anyone

Struijk took to Instagram to say: ‘In today’s game something happened that I would never wish on anyone.

‘Harvey Elliott, my thoughts are with you. I’m gutted and never meant for this to happen. I wish you a speedy recovery and hope to see you back on the pitch soon.

In the past, while footballers would return from similar injuries, lasting damage could curtail their careers and leave them in pain in later life.

Now, treatment is much swifter, techniques have improved and there is much more focus on rehabilitation than decades ago.

Former Leeds United and Manchester United forward, Alan Smith, has told how a similar injury to that suffered by Elliott, means he now struggles to run after retiring from the game in 2018.

Smith suffered a broken bone and dislocated ankle while playing for United at Liverpool in the FA Cup Fifth Round as recently as 2006, after he was struck by a free-kick from John Arne Riise.

Mr Hennessey said he also attended that game remembers Smith lying on the pitch with the dislocation visible for a long period.

By the end, the day-to-day training was doing more harm than good. I couldn’t compete at a level I felt I could easily before. I get out of bed and can’t walk properly, my ankle is stiff all the time,’ Smith said following his release from Notts County.

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