Will Curtis ever come Good?
This summer, we are expected to wave a belated goodbye to a number of players who have overstayed their welcome at St. James Park (and, in some cases, were never particularly welcome to begin with). The departures of Fabricio Coloccini (hopefully) and Steven Taylor (out of contract) will be long overdue, reducing our centre-half contingent to just three.
As United look to clear the decks before returning to the Championship, one defender is likely to be on the retained list, despite managing just ninety minutes for the club.
Curtis Good may be the least fit or most unfortunate player to have donned a Newcastle United training bib in recent years. Arriving at Darsley Park after a successful trial, big things were expected of the 19-year-old. So much so in fact, that United handed the teenager a six year deal worth £5,000 a week.
Curtis was a frequent starter with Melbourne Heart in the A-League, and it was clearly hoped that after a couple of years with the development squad, he would be doing the same in England’s top flight. Nobody: not the physios, fitness coaches or the player himself, could have foreseen what would follow.
The omens looked good for Curtis after a successful spell at Bradford City, where he helped the Bantams reach the League Cup final (though he was subbed halfway through the 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Swansea City). But when he returned to the North East, the injury problems kicked in.
An assured first-team debut in the League Cup win over Morecambe was followed up with a succession of hamstring, groin and knee injuries. At the time, the centre-half was deemed unlucky.
When a knock on his international debut brought about a premature end to another promising loan stint, this time at Dundee United, the Australian started to look injury-prone.
Now in 2016, the young defender – though not so young at 23 – seems definitively cursed.
That hip injury sustained in a friendly against Ecuador has ultimately sidelined Good for the best part of two long, painful, frustrating years.
In that time, United have suffered too. A lack of quality centre-halves was just one of the problems that plagued the doomed side as they slipped into the Championship.
At the close of play, 24-year-old Paul Dummett – not averse to injury himself – had managed to make 19 appearances. Jamaal Lascelles, Good’s junior by four months, had turned out 18 times. And Chancel Mbemba, the youngest of the lot, made more league appearances than any other defender.
All the while, Good was either on the treatment table or working his way back to some relative state of fitness. His recovery on the pitch could be just as gruelling. He was part of the under-21 side which shipped three first-half goals against Arsenal, West Ham United and Swansea City; on all three occasions he did not return to the field for the second half. Crocked once again soon after, Curtis missed the rest of the development squad’s dismal campaign.
The latest addition to the Aussie’s personal anthology of injuries could be looked at two ways. On one hand, it was not a recurrence of the hip problem which effectively wrote off two years of his career. On the other, it suggests that the defender’s bad luck does not exclusively reside around his pelvic area.
Regardless of whether Curtis Good can recapture the form and fitness which made him worth the gamble in 2012, United will be drafting in defensive reinforcements. Were it not for injuries, he might well have progressed in the same fashion as Dummett and Lascelles, and could have been a useful asset in the second tier.
Perhaps he still could. The talented stopper has another two years to run on his contract and will get the benefit of a summer’s rest and a full pre-season under his belt.
However, at 23 years old, time is running out for Curtis Good to make good on his teenage promise.
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