So many promising campaigns have been cut short by injuries already this season, we felt it was time we compiled a top list of players fans want to see back in action - With 10 unlucky key players listed. Some have been out a while, and others have only just suffered misfortune. Some injuries are long-term, while others could heal as soon as a fortnight. Manchester United's Nemanja Vidic and Tottenham's Scott Parker, due to make comebacks this weekend against Sunderland and Swansea, are not included. They aren't the only ones, Michel Vorm, Anderson, Micah Richards and Jack Rodwell are not included, along with the perpetually injured Michael Owen. Here is our 'top 10'.
Theo Walcott has had a bit of a stop-start season at Arsenal with his bruised lung suffered against San Marino, and benching by Arsene Wenger (rumoured to be because of his unsigned contract). But when he has appeared he has been razor sharp, and has had a cutting edge the Gunners could so have done with against Bradford. He could make a swift return from his calf injury for next week's game with Reading, and a return would be most welcome, although if transfer rumours are to be believed, Arsenal may have to get used to being without him.
Abou Diaby's early season performances seem like a mirage, he was inspirational for Arsenal and France, leading both to victories, only for his injury curse to strike again. A thigh strain which was supposed to be just a niggle has turned into an all-too predictable lengthy lay-off, with his return date currently unknown. Back in early September he was being compared to Yaya Toure, but now a revertion to his previous injury record has made a comparison to Darren Anderson more appropriate.
Shinji Kagawa was Manchester United's marquee summer signing, prior to the late capture of top scorer Robin van Persie that is. Hopes for the Japanese playmaker are high, but just as he looked to be settling and adjusting to life at Old Trafford he was sidelined by a knee injury. A misdiagnosis meant his injury has taken longer than first thought to recover from, but he is now back in light training with the club and a return will not be far
Newcastle have suffered several injury setbacks this season, but there are no players more important who they are missing than French midfielder Yohan Cabaye. The central midfielder was integral to their success last season, and this campaign the club have lost twice the ratio of matches without him than they have with him. The bad news is he is not expected back from his groin injury until February.
Costa Rican international Bryan Ruiz was just looking to be finally hitting top form for Fulham when he got injured, which was a great disappointment for fans of Martin Jol's side and neutrals alike. Ruiz had struck up a superb partnership with Dimitar Berbatov, players whose approaches to the game mirror each other in style, and are on the same wavelength. He could return from his hamstring injury in early January.
Argentine international midfielder Claudio Yacob has been hailed as the signing of the season in many quarters, helping West Brom sail into the top half of the table and striking up a formidable central midfielder partnership with Yussuf Mulumbu. He missed the weekend's clash with Arsenal via a hamstring complaint and the Baggies will want to see him back in the first team as soon as possible to help them arrest their three-game losing streak.
Promising full-back Neil Taylor was becoming the talk of the Premier League after his impressive debut season for Swansea, and showings for Team GB in the summer. So it was cruel luck when he suffered a horrific ankle break early in the season. He is not expected to play again in 2012/13, but that doesn't stop Swansea fans wishing he could.
West Ham midfielder Mohamed Diame is another of the summer's best signings, picked up on a free transfer by West Ham. He suffered a hamstring injury against Liverpool on Sunday which is expected to keep him out of action for a month. He had formed an excellent partnership with Mark Noble, providing a solid base in the middle for Kevin Nolan to roam forward, and West Ham will be keen to see him back next month, and even keener than his reported transfer clause is not exploited by would-be suitors.
Chelsea's recent struggles have been highlighted by the shaky form of David Luiz and brittle partnership between himself and Gary Cahill. If there is one man they can do with having back it is John Terry, who shortly after returning from suspension injured his knee. The diagnosis proved to not be as bad as first thought, and he is continuing to be rested, but the last month has proved his importance to the Chelsea side and how they need him back.
Tottenham's key winger and prized asset is the one player Andre Villas-Boas can't replace. So it is no wonder he is keen to sign an extra winger as cover in January. Bale suffered a hamstring injury against Liverpool last month, and there is an outside chance he will be fit to play against Swansea this weekend, but right now it remains 50-50 at best. Spurs won't want to rush him back, but such is his importance, they will be tempted to.
Which of the players do you most want to see back in action?
image: © Marcel Sigg