To say Mark Davies has had a tough time with injuries in the last few years would be a massive understatement – equivalent to stating that the banking system made a bit of a mess of the British economy a few years back.
So bad has the Bolton Wanderers midfielder’s luck been on the fitness front that he could have been forgiven for fearing that he was cursed, that some kind of sporting voodoo magic was working against him and preventing his limbs from making it through any given campaign unscathed.
Head, shoulders, knees and toes, Davies has ticked just about every box when it comes to keeping physiotherapists and personal trainers in business.
He is, however – whisper it quietly – back in business for the start of 2015/16 and looking to make up for lost time with a Bolton side that you can back to start getting things right by visiting 32Red on mobile here and having a flutter on their sports betting markets.
It was not all that long ago that the now 27-year-old schemer was making quite the name for himself in the Premier League, with Bolton’s relegation out of the top tier in 2011/12 not expected to keep him away from the elite for long.
There have been plenty of speculative stories regarding a possible move elsewhere since then, but a series of rather unfortunate events have conspired against him and forced potential suitors to look elsewhere.
Bolton, who have Davies tied down until 2017, will consider that to have worked in their favour, with financial constraints likely to have forced their hand had a prized asset been able to keep himself under the spotlight and in sight of the top-flight vultures.
It may be that he works his way back to that level – time is still on his side as he approaches what are supposed to be the peak years of a footballing career – and Neil Lennon has been quick to talk up his contribution during the opening weeks of a difficult campaign for the Trotters which has them as 2/1 third favourites with 32Red to slip out of the division.
He told the Bolton News: “Mark Davies has been outstanding. Right at this minute I think he’s one of the best players in this division. He was a real driving force against Blackburn Rovers. He’s only a little fella but he was so strong and even though the ball was up in the air all the time, he was in there for us.”
— Bolton Wanderers FC (@OfficialBWFC) August 31, 2015
To bill the former Wolves man as ‘one of the best players in the division’ may be a little bold, and a tad premature given his record for breaking down, but there is no escaping the fact that Davies has been a key performer for Bolton, with the potential there to scale past heights.
In four outings, 360 minutes of football so far this season – fewer than many of his teammates – Davies has made a team-high 13 tackles (three more than his closest challenger), played the most passes (196) and seen more of those find a teammate than anybody else (175) – with those figures giving him an impressive completion rate of 89 per cent.
The corner certainly appears to be being turned, but Davies will be the first to point out that fortunes can change in the blink of an eye and that he has a long way to go before his transformation from something of a forgotten man to the centre of attention can be considered complete.