If David Dunn is looking for reassuring words during his injury-plagued spell at Birmingham City he need look no further than Matthew Macklin.
Dunn has struck up a firm friendship with the Birmingham-born Irish middleweight champion who is one of the hottest prospects in boxing.
Agents Frank Warren, Barry Hearn and Brian Peters are chasing his signature while training partner Ricky Hatton has tipped him as a future world champion.
Last year was the year when Macklin came of age and started showing glimpses of his prodigious talent.
A decorated amateur, he was lured into Warren's web but after a shock defeat against Andrew Facey three years ago and another injury-blighted 12 months he was close to being written off by pessimistic boxing writers.
Macklin was certainly at his lowest ebb and, after splitting with Warren, suffered a spate of debilitating injuries to his hands as well as a whispering campaign about his private life.
Yet the ebullient Brummie had already befriended Dunn who was in arguably his best form in a Birmingham City shirt at this time, and the talented midfielder helped Macklin through the dark times.
Tangible evidence of his resurrection appeared last year as he obliterated four opponents by knock-out in Dublin, Atlantic City, Philadelphia and Sheffield to announce his return as a major player.
The 23-year-old is mulling over an offer from Warren and is expected to link up with his former mentor by the end of the month and appear on the Joe Calzaghe/Jeff Lacy bill in March.
However, the parallels with Dunn are uncanny as Birmingham's midfielder has suffered a series of setbacks involving his back, hamstring and thigh that has driven him to distraction.
Witnessing the pair larking about at Birmingham's training ground this week, it is clear that Dunn is working overtime on his conditioning as he looks exceptionally lean.
Nevertheless, it has still been a frustrating period for the 26-year-old and Macklin sayss it has been his turn to offer a shoulder to cry on.
"When it rains it pours, but it can't rain forever if you have the talent and the ability," a philosophical Macklin said.
"You have to stick with it and keep working hard.
"We have both had our fair share of injuries and we often boost each other's morale, as I know what it is like for him.
"He was doing well at Birmingham but I was at the end of my tether with boxing.
"I hadn't fought for 12 months, I had broken my hands and I was totally fed up.
"I kept thinking that maybe there was someone upstairs trying to tell me that boxing wasn't for me!
"David kept telling me to stick with it because it would turn around.
"It has certainly transformed for me in less than 12 months and I can't believe that I've got three boxing promoters all showing an interest.
"If anything it is a nightmare dilemma to have but it proves just how quickly your career can change.
"Obviously David is a bit peeved with his injuries but I keep reminding him that he told me that I could turn the corner and I have."
Dunn is a self-confessed b oxing fanatic and has watched Macklin train at Hatton's gymnasium in Manchester where he is now based.
If Macklin links up with Warren the plan of action is to promote him in England rather than Ireland or America and to arrange a British light-middleweight title shot this year.
It is a natural progression for Macklin after his imperious performances during the last calendar year and Dunn is firmly backing his claims.
He said: "I hope he can be the British champion this year as he is certainly good enough.
"I saw his last fight against the Russian bloke [Alexey Chirkov] in Sheffield and he produced a great knock-out punch.
"I don't really do any boxing training at present and I just want to get fully fit and not do anything that will affect my football.
"However I used to do a bit with Steve Brannigan [Birmingham's physiotherapist] when I was fully fit.
"I have been to the gym in Manchester with Matt to watch him spar with Ricky Hatton and it is impressive.
"I met Matt on the train a couple of years ago as the inspector told me he was a Blues fan.
"He sat with me on the way back from London and bored me senseless, as he hasn't got much banter," the impish Dunn quipped.
"Sometimes you meet people and you don't click with them, the others you click with straightaway.
"I even went round to his mum's in Solihull for Christmas dinner last year!"
As befits true sportsmen, even a bout of mock shadow sparring for the photographer is extremely competitive - with Dunn proving he is equally adept with his hands as he is with his feet.
However, the final word must go to Macklin, who is arguably Birmingham's most exciting boxer for more than a decade.
He said: "I am still only 23 and most of the people I boxed with at amateur level are only now just turning professional.
"I am looking for prestigious titles such as the British, and I will hope to fight for it this year.
"It is down to hard work, effort and being injury-free.
"I think boxing is harder to train for than football," he added with a laugh.
"And I reckon David would have to agree."