Falling just short of 100 appearances for Wolves, and netting over 20 goals (not to mention countless assists), Michael Kightly rates amongst one of the best signings Mick McCarthy has made at Wolves. Picking him up from non-league Grays midway through the 2006/07 season, Kightly went on to star for Wolves as they narrowly missed out on promotion after losing in the play-offs.
Kightly, who also attracted the interest of Manchester United before he joined Wolves, was a key part of helping Wolves gain promotion in 2009. Finishing with the highest number of assists in the 2008/09 Championship season, the ‘Ryan Giggs of non-league football’ was tipped for England honours.
However, a broken metatarsal, which had kept the winger out of the latter part of the promotion season, delayed his Premier League debut. Kightly eventually returned to the side in late December and helped Wolves to a 2-1 win against Fulham.
Despite his return to the side, Wolves could not halt a run of bad results. To make matters worse, during the 1-0 home defeat to Birmingham, Kightly suffered an ankle injury that kept him out for a few months.
While recovering from the injury, the 24-year-old suffered with patella tendon problems in his knee. This kept him out for the remainder of the season, in which Wolves went on to avoid relegation comfortably.
Kightly was confident about a return to the first team for the 2010/11 season and began pre-season training with the side. Despite early confidence, Kightly again suffered further knee problems and had to have several operations in an attempt to correct the injury. Due to this, the winger was left out of the Wolves 25-man squad for the first part of the season.
Today, Wolves have been handed further bad news with Kightly being ruled out for the foreseeable future. The winger will travel to Sweden to have another operation in a further attempt to sort out an injury, which has kept him out for nearly a year. Kightly had been hoping to go out on loan to regain some fitness, but this will have to go on hold until he can prove his fitness.
Whether Kightly will ever be able to get back to the levels that Wolves fans are used to remains to be seen. With the fans seeing similar stories with Matt Murray and George Ndah end badly, few would forgive them for being sceptical about the chances of seeing Kightly bombing down the wing once more.
It seems such a shame for Kightly who, almost certainly, would have been on the verges of an England call-up now…much like his fellow winger, Matt Jarvis. Still, let’s just hope the next operation goes well and we see the winger back in a Wolves shirt soon.