Five players whose promising careers were hampered by injury

Dean Ashton

Former Arsenal, Leeds, West Ham, Manchester City and Liverpool players feature.

Throughout football there have been players whose careers have threatened to take off, only to be struck down by injury or multiple injuries. Here's a few who had bags of potential:

Dean Ashton

Ashton emerged in 2000 for Crewe Alexandra and scored 74 goals for them in 146 appearances before making a switch to Norwich. Ashton then scored 17 league goals for the Canaries before moving to West Ham where eventually he was forced to retired in 2009, aged only 26.

Ashton was being hailed as the perfect man to play alongside Wayne Rooney for England, only to suffer the injury that ended his career whilst training with the national team.

Completely shattering all the bones in his ankle, Ashton was left with very little cartilage causing his bones to rub together when playing. A sensational striker of the ball and a big presence, the 30-year-old could've been on the plane to Brazil this summer if he had continued playing the way he was before injury. 

Eduardo

The Brazilian born forward who played for Croatia, Eduardo made his name at Arsenal and scored 12 goals from 22 starts in his first season in England. An injury suffered against Birmingham in 2008 would change all of that though, as Eduardo missed a year of first team football with a broken leg and dislocated ankle.

Returning in the 2008/09 season Eduardo still managed to bag a few goals, but niggling injuries and a change in formation for Arsenal saw his chances increasingly limited. The 31-year-old plays his football with Shakhtar Donetsk now but was linked with a move back to Arsenal in January... though it's debatable how successful that move would be. 

Alan Smith

Alan Smith came through the ranks at Leeds United and made his debut for them against Liverpool in the 1998/99 season. He proved a key player for them that season both in the Premier League and in Europe, at a time when the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Lee Bowyer, Ian Harte and Jonathan Woodgate were in the Leeds team.

Financial troubles saw all but local lad Smith leave the club upon relegation to the Championship, but eventually Smith did have to leave and went to Manchester United. It was here in 2006 that Smith picked up the injury he never quite came back from – severely dislocating his ankle after landing awkwardly.

After scoring on his United debut in 2004, Smith only managed to pick up 11 more in a red shirt. In fairness, Sir Alex was fielding him in a deeper position than when he had signed, due to his aggressive qualities on the pitch. The 33-year-old left United and went onto play for Newcastle and currently, MK Dons. 

Djibril Cisse

Cisse has played for a number of clubs and scored a number of goals throughout his career, but you have to wonder just how great this man could've been if he hadn't have broken both of his legs on separate occasions. Having said that it's an amazing feat he's able to play at all, and is still capable of the spectacular.

Originally appearing in England for Liverpool, Cisse was an exciting player to watch. After breaking his tibia and fibula against Blackburn in 2005, Cisse made a speedy recovery and featured again for Liverpool six months later. The Frenchman then broke his right leg while on international duty in 2006. His most recent spell in England came for QPR where he scored nine goals in 19 league appearances – some very important. 

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson played under Sven Goran Eriksson, Mark Hughes and Roberto Mancini for Manchester City and for many years was headlined to be the next big thing. It was eventually the pressure of top-flight football and a number of injuries that put an end to this still only 26-year-old's career. 

He was only released last January despite not having played since 2009 – signifying just how much all those in Manchester thought of him. 

Honorable mentions: Jonathan Woodgate, Darren Anderton.  

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