Don't worry, Gary Gardner is fine. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
I was settling down to write a nice, feel-good piece about the Aston Villa reserves thrashing Newcastle's reserves 4-0 to go nine points clear at the top of the Reserve League South table. And then I run into this, from the official site's match report:
Nevertheless, Villa's experienced attacking line-up proved too strong for Peter Beardsley's team despite suffering the blow of losing Nathan Delfouneso to injury after 23 minutes.
That's all of the information there is, so far as I can tell; nothing else in the match report, nothing on Twitter, nothing on Google News. That may well be because Villa's depth at striker is so non-existent that Delfouneso suffered a minor knock and was removed entirely as a precaution; in fact, that's the most likely explanation. But if I've learned anything over these past two seasons, it's to never ever think the most likely scenario is the actual scenario unless it would be bad news. Would it be a surprise to anyone to hear that Delfouneso has suffered a season-ending injury?
Let's hope it's nothing serious. A lot of people seem to have mentally written off Delfouneso, but it's important to keep in mind that he's only just turned 21 years old. He's made 28 appearances for the senior team and done little to impress, but expecting all young players to be Wayne Rooney or even Gabby Agbonlahor is foolish. There's nothing about his physical tools or his basic skillset that suggests he isn't cut out for regular Premier League football, and given Villa's financial state I'm willing to give him some time to develop. Hopefully whatever injury he's picked up won't do anything to knock his growth off course.
We'll keep you posted if anything develops.