That’s exactly how it was for Stephen Carr who had recovered from a hernia operation last term and had really put himself through it in our strenuous pre-season build-up but was then sidelined by an inflamed knee.
Most injured players are frustrated by inactivity — but Stephen is virtually suicidal! Being forced to watch games or even to miss training is a total trial for a player not used to sitting around.
And the nature of his current injury adds to that misery because there’s not much that he can do — apart from rest. So after treatment in the morning, he does some upper body work in the gymnasium at Spurs Lodge and is then under strict orders from the doctor to take it easy.
And easy it certainly is not for Carr! He’s so desperate to be playing again that he even presented himself for this interview without too much persuasion. And if there’s one thing Stephen hates more than missing games, it is talking about football and his part in the overall scheme of things!
But if Carr is missing playing then the Spurs fans are missing him because the former Tottenham trainee has emerged as the best right-back in the country.
In his absence, Mauricio Taricco has made a successful switch from his more accustomed left side of defence but any team would miss Stephen Carr.
Just ask Mick McCarthy. The Republic of Ireland boss appears to be well served in the right-back position with the likes of Gary Kelly, of Leeds United, ahead of an emerging group of young hopefuls. But Carr gives so much to any side that McCarthy is continually monitoring his daily progress.
Sadly for Stephen he missed a great afternoon recently when the Irish beat Holland 1-0 in Dublin. In fact that result helped knock out the Dutch who, ironically, would have been one of the tournament favourites had they reached the finals. Now the Irish are up against Portugal with both countries level on points at the top of Group Two but, despite being unbeaten, Carr’s countrymen are unlikely to qualify automatically and look destined for the play-offs.
Ireland play Cyprus at Landsdowne Road in their final group game on October 6 with Portugal at home to Estonia. If both home sides win, the Irish would have to score a hatful of goals to knock the Portuguese off top slot.
"There’s so much happening that it’s been terrible timing for me," agrees Stephen. "The knee was bugging me when I came back for pre-season but it only really started hurting when I started playing in games.
"The knee joint became very inflamed so I was told to stop completely and take a complete rest. Otherwise there was a risk of further damage.
"It is improving but very slowly. It’s a nightmare because it all happened just two weeks before the start of the season and there’s very little that can be done to speed up the recovery.
"That Irish result against Holland was massive and I was very disappointed not to have been involved. It was an excellent display, just unbelievable and they did it despite being down to 10 men after Gary Kelly was sent off.
"It was some achievement but oddly enough that’s not what is worrying me so much at the moment. I just want to get back playing for Spurs.
But the lads dug deep to defeat Southampton and I know that they’ll go on doing the same.
"I want to be out there helping them — and the sooner the better."
Early season is no time to be injured. Particularly if you have worked hard throughout the summer and were all ready for the new campaign when misfortune struck.