Why Daniel Sturridge's West Brom loan will hinder his progress
The short answer to the headline's question is that Daniel Sturridge suffered a hamstring injury after only four minutes on the field for West Brom against Chelsea. That qualifies as a hindrance.
Sturridge made a bold statement agreeing to be loaned out for the season's remainder. The English goal-getter needs to prove himself right and many pundits wrong. So far, no.
Now 28, the Liverpool fringe player should be in his prime. The only problem has been a mass of injuries. Since his arrival at the Hawthorns, Sturridge has made three appearances. Known predominantly for his dribbling and shooting, the move appeared to be a great opportunity. In the Chelsea game, though, Sturridge had to be subbed off after just one touch. Alan Pardew had been gambling this wouldn't happen, but reality has set in. Told-you-soes from critics do little good for the relegation-threatened boss now.
Sturridge's medical history makes for long but unpleasant reading. Since joining Liverpool in 2013, the former Chelsea striker has suffered 15 different injuries. The list includes a torn ankle ligament, sprained ankle, hamstring injuries, calf problems, a knee oedema and, worst of all, hip problems. His hip issues were most serious during the 2014/15 season. That and a hamstring injury caused him to miss more than 230 days.
Sturridge is currently undergoing treatment for his hamstring injury. It's estimated he won't return to training for at least two weeks. He could miss out on key Premier League games such as Huddersfield at home and Watford away. He certainly won't be trying to squeeze into cabs for midnight burger runs. Still, it could be worse.
Anchoring the Premier League table, West Brom is desperate for a striker. Only Swansea has fewer than the Baggies' 21 goals. The outlook isn't great when your top scorers have just four goals each. Solomon Rondon and Jay Rodriguez are not lighting the league up. Less than one goal per game when you're conceding nearly one-and-a-half will put you at or near the bottom. Seven points inside the relegation zone isn't an ideal situation. Losing crucial players only makes it worse.
The only problem Daniel Sturridge will face when he returns is how soon he will be carted off again. His history is well known. More injuries won't just affect him physically. They will damage his psyche. A footballer can least afford to lose his confidence. On the bright side, Sturridge is at least used to the routine.
If his absence stretches to more than two or three weeks, his loan deal will almost certainly be a dud. Pardew values him as a primary attacking option. Still, he must be on the pitch to save West Brom's season. In his three games in a Baggies kit, he came on in the second half twice, then started his third game. In total, he has amassed 78 minutes. Add the four against Chelsea, and he hadn't lasted a full match before heading to the physio's room. Signs are definitely not positive. West Brom fans are probably already placing their hopes elsewhere.
Yes, Sturridge can score. To prove it, he must stay healthy. He does no one any good otherwise, and West Brom is desperate for something good right now.