Five days after sustaining what's technically known as a "traumatic brain injury," but better known as a concussion, while playing for Belgium against Wales, Dries Mertens was finally deemed healthy enough to travel today, and so this morning Napoli's wounded attacker returned to Naples.
Mertens was supposed to return earlier, but continued spells of dizziness, ear ringing, and balance problems left him temporarily unable to travel. As far as safety precautions go, not letting a badly concussed man hop on an airplane for a few hours is a pretty good one.
As far as this weekend's match against Cagliari is concerned, Mertens will be strictly an observer, if he's even at the match at all. In the meantime, Napoli's doctors will give him time to settle in, then run a battery of tests and evaluations on him to see exactly how Mertens is faring. Whether or not he'll be able to play after that will depend greatly on the results of that evaluation, and hopefully he'll be given whatever time is needed to get all the way healthy. Concussions are a serious and tricky thing, and rushing a player back from as serious a one as Mertens apparently sustained is a risky endeavor at best.
For his part, Mertens seems to be in good spirits:
Good luck and thanks for the support, I'm feeling better every day.— Dries Mertens (@dries_mertens14) November 21, 2014
He followed that up by cracking a concussion joke and offering up the shirt he wore in the match in an injury-delayed contest for his followers. Humor helps recovery, right?
In any case, the team will shortly know more about Mertens' status and how to move forward from here. Fingers crossed that all the news is as good as possible, for the sake of Mertens, the club, and the fans.