THE unfortunate reality of Steven Reid's Premier League career is that since he became a top flight player eight years ago, the talented midfielder has spent more time watching games than participating in them.
His New Year started in painfully familiar fashion: a knee cartilage injury which means another spell on the sidelines for the Londoner.
The initial prognosis is a six-week absence. They have stacked up over the years.
The hope was that a move to West Brom would represent a fresh start for the popular Reid, who had already appeared at a World Cup and developed into a fine young talent at Millwall ahead of his switch to Blackburn in 2003.
Since then, it's been a stop-start adventure, with more stops than starts since the 2005/06 season, a campaign which proved to be his best in the English game. Indeed, he even attracted the attention of Manchester United after putting a consistent string of appearances together.
A further run of action two years later offered another hint of his ability, but Giovanni Trapattoni's arrival as Ireland manager coincided with a further bout of bad luck which effectively ended Reid's international career and any chance of realising his immense potential.
The breakdown of Reid's career Premier League statistics make for depressing reading.
Considering league performances are the most accurate reflection of a player's standing in a club -- with cup competitions frequently used for shuffling the pack -- the Irish Independent has examined the amount of time that Reid has played at top-flight level in the past eight and a half seasons.
With 38 games per season, and 22 gone so far in this term, it means that his clubs have been involved in 25,920 minutes of league action. He has been involved in 8,575. That's barely a third of the time.
To put that in context, Reid has missed more than 289 hours of Premier League activity in the space of eight years. That's the equivalent of almost 193 full games, although in his recuperations from various setbacks, he made a number of short cameos from the bench.
Admittedly, he did spend part of last season on loan with QPR and West Brom, and his 12 appearances there aren't included in his tally. But then those stints were a consequence of his injury difficulties.
Blackburn didn't believe he was sufficiently recovered from his difficulties to make an active contribution at Premier League level, and promptly released Reid at the end of the season anyway.
Aside from being sent off as a sub 12 minutes into his Blackburn debut, he has suffered minimal impact from suspensions.
Trapattoni managed to rile Sam Allardyce by suggesting, just over a year ago, that he was unsure whether Reid was fully back to his best as he recovered from his second cruciate ligament operation.
The Italian was not certain that the 29-year-old could return to his best, to replicate the energetic box-to-box performances that defined the high points of his career.
Reid was perplexed by the comments, and articulated that belief. In hindsight, however, the Irish manager's stance looks accurate.
Allardyce released Reid at the end of the season and confirmed that discussions about a new contract never really got that far.
West Brom did have a firm offer available which he accepted, yet Roberto di Matteo has failed to really place trust in his acquisition, with Reid mainly restricted to the role of substitute until his knee cartilage setback.
To date, he has been involved in just 362 minutes of the Baggies' return to the highest level.
Sporadically, he is also deployed at right back, an unusual location for an individual who had the physicality to compete with distinction in the intensity of the engine room.
Alas, the cruel hand of fate has declined to give him a break. It's a desperate shame for an Irishman who could have developed into a real contender.