BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12: Darren Bent of Aston Villa looks dejected during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Manchester City at Villa Park on February 12, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Aston Villa striker Darren Bent has undergone an operation to repair ruptured ligaments in his ankle, and Villa's official site has called the procedure a "complete success." If all goes according to plan, Bent should be able to resume training in three months time. In case you hadn't noticed, that puts Bent out until early June, so any lingering hope that the forward may still have a chance to make an impact this season is out the window.
That's not exactly a surprise, but it's not unheard of for an operation to reveal that an injury was not as significant as was perhaps initially assumed. Conversely, it's not unheard of for an operation to reveal that an injury was far more significant than initially assumed, so with that in mind I suppose it's fair to call it a wash.
The timetable for Bent's return also seems like a death knell for his chances to recover in time to play for England in Euro 2012, which will likely be a pretty serious blow. It took Bent quite some time to work his way back into the national team picture, and not so long after establishing himself as a regular he's sustained an injury that will prevent him from taking place in his first major international competition (assuming you're not counting qualifiers, which I'd guess Bent is not.) From a selfish, Villa-centric perspective that's probably not the worst thing; Bent will have a full off-season to rehabilitate and work himself back to full fitness, with minimal risk of re-injury. But from a personal perspective, I've got to think it's a pretty difficult situation/
Now that the surgery has been performed and rehabilitation is underway, the next big test will come on opening day of next season. Though it's likely minimal there is some risk of a permanent deterioration of Bent's speed and quickness, and those are two of his most valuable assets. It's not as though this injury is going to render his pace Heskey-esque, but at this level even a minute deterioration can make a player less effective. That likely won't end up being the case, but we can't know for sure until we see him on the pitch; I for one know that I will feel a whole lot better come August the first time Bent uses that lethal combination of a lightning-quick first step and speed to burn to break the offside trap and get himself in a 1-v-1 with the opposing keeper, because in situations like that there's no one better or more enjoyable to watch than Darren Bent.