Had two taken out a couple of years ago. Your jaw is swollen for about a week, can't have any solid foods. Can't expect him to play football, since if anything happens (ball hits him in the face for example) that could be painful and slightly dangerous. You basically have stitches during that time and need to wait for everything to heal.
He's still been on the subs bench though. But yes, I can understand the reason for the long layoff now.
Our attacking struggles are down to three main factors in my opinion. Firstly our centre halves play very deep, so our midfield comes deep to support them and our attackers are left isolated. The whole team being set deep invites pressure and makes it almost impossible to utilise fast counter attacks.
Secondly O'Neill tries to shoehorn players into a formation and/or positions that don't suit them. Today's a pretty good example, O'Neill, again, starting the game with three wingers (Larsson, McClean and Johnson) on the pitch and we line up in the customary 4-4-1-1 formation. We can barely keep hold of the ball in the first half. Eventually McClean is replaced by Campbell, a centre forward, Larsson goes on the wing and we play 4-3-1-2. Five minutes later Larsson is replaced with Vaughan, a central midfielder, and we do without a right winger for the last few minutes. The team is far too often unbalanced like this.
Thirdly outside of Fletcher there are no real goal scorers amongst our centre forwards. I suspect we'd have managed a draw if Fletcher had played the full match. Outside of him we have Saha (4 goals in 27 PL games last season), Campbell (6 in 55 career PL games), Wickham (1 in 18 career PL games) and McFadden (20 in 168). Only Saha was ever close to prolific and that's long gone now.