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Dries Mertens Has Sprained Ankle, Out At Least A Week

Napoli have dodged a bullet, as Mertens' ankle injury is less serious than it first appeared.

You can breathe a sigh of relief now: the serious looking ankle injury sustained by Dries Mertens during his substitute appearance on Sunday is being called a simple ankle sprain. Given the pain on Mertens' face and the extremely careful way the trainers took him off the pitch, it certainly looked as though the injury could have been much more serious, so Napoli has avoided a big blow.

The injury came just ten minutes after Mertens stepped on to the pitch. Running to the edge of Fiorentina's penalty area, Mertens was met by a hard-sliding Stefen Savic, and took studs to his right ankle and lower leg. Mertens was in a lot of obvious pain when the foul occurred, and couldn't put any weight on his leg when the trainers were taking him off the pitch.

Calcio News says that Mertens will miss at least a week, meaning he'll miss the midweek Catania match and the vital tilt against Juventus next Sunday. The idea of an already thin attacking midfield group getting thinner for this run of matches isn't a fun one, and it could have an even greater impact if he's out for much longer. Losing the ability to bring either him or Lorenzo Insigne off the bench will have an impact as well, as now Goran Pandev will be the first man off the bench, and his skillset doesn't lend itself nearly as well to late impact as Mertens or Insigne.

Mertens has been an underratedly important part of Napoli's season so far, and losing him for any stretch of time will hurt. Hopefully he's healthy and back on the pitch sooner rather than later.