Fabian Delph returned to Aston Villa for treatment of an ankle injury last week, and after an assessment the news is not good; Delph will likely miss a minimum of six weeks and the damage could be extensive enough to rule him out for the rest of the year. It's tempting to make a "Fabian Delph is fragile" joke (so tempting that I've already done so, in fact!) but in this instance it may not be entirely fair; the damage was the result of a pretty nasty tackle from Coventry's Oliver Norwood, and no matter how resilient your ligaments are they probably won't be in good shape after being forced to bend this way. (Disclaimer: that picture is kind of gross.)
This is unfortunate news for Villa, as Delph was by all accounts playing quite well and looking confident in his time at Leeds. Villa's midfield is still a big concern, and it certainly would have been nice to see Delph come back from his loan spell a re-energized player, finally beginning to deliver on all of his promise. For Villa to get back to Europe it's going to take more than £25 million to spend on the transfer market (though that would be nice, too!) Fabian Delph turning into a consistent, quality midfielder would go a long way towards bringing Villa back to relevance.
But more than anything, you have to feel terribly for Fabian Delph. His career has not worked out the way most people (including, presumably, himself) would have figured, and though he's still a young player he's quickly approaching the age where he can no longer rightfully be considered a prospect. He's been playing in the Premier League for parts of three seasons now, but he's yet to take a step to the next level. Injuries have undeniably played a huge part in that, and the timing of this one is particularly cruel. Delph was going to continue getting consistent playing time if he remained at Leeds, and even if he returned to Villa as expected he would have done so following a month-long spell of starter's minutes and strong performances. Now, he's faced with yet another lengthy rehabilitation and the prospect of not having a chance to show his manager that he's made strides ahead of a crucial off-season likely to bring a not-insignificant amount of changes to the squad.
I've expressed a lot of frustration with Delph's level of performance and I've made my share of jokes about his injury troubles as well, but I also feel really, really bad for the kid. I think he has the talent he needs to become a solid player at this level, but injury after injury has derailed his progress. If he can't get some good luck soon, it could do irreparable harm to his career. That would be a real shame.