Duncan Watmore has suffered another injury set-back in a career dogged by time on the treatment table.
The 25-year-old has already experienced more rehabilitation that most players face in a lifetime.
He’s been out with two separate incidents of cruciate knee ligament damage, one on each knee, which has curtailed his early promise.
He was once an England Under-21 star, the first ‘Jamie Vardy’, emerging from the non-league and looking to establish himself amongst the best players in the country.
This season he bounced back for a second time having been unable to prevent his side slipping into League One. He set about ensuring they’d be promoted though and despite his horror injuries, he came back as fit and as fast as ever.
He made 16 appearances after returning to action, bagging in the EFL Trophy as Sunderland marched to the final, then grabbing his first league goal of the season to level against Wycombe.
Jogging back to the centre circle in injury time of Saturday’s game, he must have felt good.
He had a Wembley final to look forward to, a chance to repay the club’s faith in him with some silverware. He’d established himself as a first team player once more and begun to enjoy his football.
Enter Marcus Bean and the crude challenge that has ended Watmore’s season.
It must be incredibly hard for the player, not just physically but emotionally as well. To experience such a high, a late leveller and a return to form, only for that to be ended so succinctly minutes later, will have a lasting effect.
Watching as the Black Cats run out at Wembley will be much harder still. Having had to watch their demise over the last couple of seasons, he will have wanted to be a part of their rise as much as anyone.
Duncan Watmore has had more injuries than one player should have to suffer, more heartbreak than it is fair for someone still so young to take.
Will he feel resentment towards Bean? It must surely be hard not to. The tackle wasn’t a 50/50, it was a crude lunge that deserved the dismissal it bought, albeit through a second yellow.
Professional footballers accept there’s a certain amount of risk, but Duncan Watmore must surely be very bitter towards his opponent, despite the Twitter apology.
Once he moves past that and focused on his return to action, again, he’ll be a little stronger and wiser for it.