For Sir Bobby Robson it must be the pinnacle of frustration. If his Newcastle United side is to requalify for the Champions' League and, more importantly on Tyneside, secure a first trophy since 1969, they will have to do it without two and possibly three of their most influential players.
Neither Craig Bellamy nor Kieron Dyer is likely to play again this season. Both underwent scans yesterday on hamstring injuries suffered during Sunday's goalless draw with Aston Villa and the results gave little hope either will play before the end of May. Jermaine Jenas, who suffered a thigh strain in the same match, is rated doubtful to recover in the 24 days before Newcastle's Premiership campaign closes at Liverpool.
With tomorrow's Uefa Cup semi-final against Marseilles looming followed by Sunday's Premiership fixture against Chelsea, this spate of injuries could scarcely have arrived at a worse time for Robson. Dyer and Bellamy have long been injury-prone, as is Jonathan Woodgate, another of the young players around whom Newcastle will have to build their future. However, this season they have started less than half-a-dozen matches together, which has undermined Newcastle, especially when taken with the sale of Nolberto Solano to Aston Villa in January.
For Dyer the pain is likely to be increased by the realisation that this latest injury should effectively end his hopes of making England's European Championship squad.