Micheal Keane has revealed the extent of a foot injury, which hindered the early stages of his Everton career and even led to concerns of a possible amputation.
A bad challenge from ex-Evertonian James Vaughan in a Carabao Cup meeting in September 2017, opened a wound in Keane's foot.
While the former Burnley defender played on, little did he know that the injury would require eight stitches and lead to repercussions that would last for almost four months
Keane has opened up about his immediate reaction to injury, the pain and subsequent worry.
The 25-year-old told the Sunday Times: “I played on [after the tackle], but I knew that something wasn’t right and I had a hole straight through the top of my boot from his studs.
"I went in at half-time and my foot was aching but I didn’t do anything about it and played the second half. When I took my boot off again there was blood everywhere."
Michael Keane’s stats against Crystal Palace:— Everton FC 1878 (@Efccol) October 22, 2018
Assists - 1
Aerial duels won - 9
Headed clearances - 7
Recoveries - 5
Successful tackles - 3
Successful long balls - 2
Pass accuracy - 81%
Following stitches, the former Manchester United man described how he woke up "in absolute agony."
The defender was advised by club medics to rest for three weeks but he returned to action just 10 days later to face his former side Burnley.
According to Keane, while the gash was healing, his foot was completely numb and needed so much padding that his shoe size went up twice to a size 12.
"I could kick a ball but the ‘feel’ wasn’t the same," he added. "I played quite well against Burnley but it was after that things took a turn for the worse."
Despite medics advice, Keane insisted playing and following a home defeat to Arsenal, the swelling had increased dramatically and the inflammation had worryingly starting rising up the defender's right leg.
“If it had kept going up my leg that’s when it really gets serious — they said if it had got much worse we might have been looking at losing the foot,” Keane said.
After struggling to play through the injury under the influence of painkillers, Keane took time out to recover. However, upon his return to first team action against Manchester United the wound was re-opened after a coming together with Anthony Martial.
When he finally returned against Leicester on January 31 he finally enjoyed an unbroken run of 14 consecutive starts until the end of the season. Keane has played in eight of the Toffees ten Premier League games in 2018/19, scoring once and registering two assists.