Sam Allardyce lamented Jack Collison’s chronic knee problems after the midfielder netted the only goal of the game in West Ham’s 1-0 away win over Stoke on Saturday.
The 24-year-old has suffered from several injury setbacks as a long-term consequence of a dislocated kneecap in 2009 and, despite praising Collison’s dedication to staying fit, the Hammers manager admitted he would never fully recover.
He told The Sun: "His management of it is a great credit to himself and the medical staff. He can live with that and prosper but it is not going to give him the full extent of his ability. It is going to restrict him.
"It’s a great shame when such a young man has to be burdened with the fact that his knee is never going to be 100 per cent."
"He does his own training and very rarely trains with us. He has to get himself ready for a game.
"He has to be bored most of the time when everyone else is doing their training and he is doing his rehab work. Afterwards he has to have that extra bit of rest and recovery to everyone else until the swelling goes down."
Collison made only his ninth appearance of the season after Matt Taylor was forced off the pitch after just 10 mins, and he turned home Ricardo Vaz Te’s precise pass for the only goal of the game shortly before half-time.
The midfielder, though, believes competition for places in the first-team squad was a bigger factor in restricting his appearances than his physical condition.
"It’s up to me to take my chances when they come,” he commented after playing 80 minutes of the match.
"Hopefully the goal will help. Physically, I feel superb and knee-wise it’s the best I’ve felt for years.
"The last few weeks I’ve been training most days and working on my fitness and trying to force my way in. But if you look at our squad it’s hard to nail down a regular position anywhere."