Liverpool loanee Taiwo Awoniyi was stretchered off in Mainz’s Bundesliga loss to Augsburg, having suffered a head injury following a collision in the box.
The 22-year-old was making his fourth consecutive start for Jurgen Klopp‘s former side, who went behind in the first minute to Florian Niederlechner’s improvised finish.
With Mainz chasing an equaliser, Awoniyi leapt to challenge for a cross into the penalty area, clashing heads with the onrushing Felix Uduokhai.
Awoniyi appeared to be knocked out as he fell to the turf and landed on his neck, unable to break his own fall, and was then stretchered off after a neck brace was applied.
The Nigerian was responsive as he left the pitch, however, and was taken directly to the university hospital three miles away, where will undergo further testing to assess his injury.
45′ Taiwo #Awoniyi ist ansprechbar und auf dem Weg ins Krankenhaus. Wir drücken die Daumen, dass es nicht so schlimm ist und dass es ihm schnell wieder besser geht. ? @1FSVMainz05 #M05FCA pic.twitter.com/5dvInhKWpy
— FC Augsburg (@FCAugsburg) June 14, 2020
Head injuries should always be taken seriously, but the hope is that Awoniyi’s issue is not too severe as he had just come into form as part of Mainz’s forward line.
Coming off the bench to score in a 2-2 comeback against Koln in the first game back in the Bundesliga, Awoniyi was again a substitute in the 5-0 loss to RB Leipzig but then started against each of Union Berlin, Hoffenheim, Eintracht Frankfurt and Augsburg.
This came after a frustrating campaign prior to the restart that saw him play just 147 minutes in six outings across seven-and-a-half months, and his attitude has been praised by sporting director Rouven Schroder.
“He could actually say: ‘I’ll be gone in the summer anyway’. But instead, he says: ‘Guys, what can we do?’,” Schroder said of Mainz’s relegation battle.
Schroder described him as “a boy who speaks for the team,” with Mainz already hoping to extend his stay at the Opel Arena—though whether that is on a permanent basis or another loan remains to be seen.
It certainly comes a bit late for Liverpool, who were hoping Awoniyi would be given enough game time to aid his bid to qualify for a UK work permit.
He is unlikely to have a long-term future at Anfield, but this injury presents another setback as he attempts to find his home at senior level.
Mainz should provide another update on Awoniyi’s condition in the near future.