Broken-leg victim Alan Smith must now win a gruelling mental battle as he tries to rebuild his Manchester United career, according to Dave Busst.
The 25-year-old Smith could miss the next 12 months after suffering a dislocated ankle and a broken leg during United's FA Cup defeat to Liverpool at Anfield.
Former Coventry City defender Busst, who suffered a career-ending fracture just 70 seconds into a Premiership match at Old Trafford in 1996, has warned Smith to brace himself for the mental strain he will inevitably face while out of action.
Busst, the former manager of Solihull Borough, said: "The most important thing for Alan will be to stay involved at Manchester United.
"For the first couple of weeks there will be people coming to visit him, sending him cards and good wishes, but it's the period which comes after that - when you're sitting on your own at home - when you can start to get down and depressed.
"He's going to have low days. All sorts of things will start running through his mind about how much he's lost and whether he'll ever get back to playing again.
"That's why it's important for Alan to keep going to United, so he's still about the place and feeling involved.
"But footballers are tough mentally and physically and you only have to look at Alan to see he's got what it takes to come through.
"The important thing is not to set any time limits because if you don't make the limit then that can have a negative effect on you.
"So the goals need to be small ones and achievable ones - for instance my first goal was to get out of plaster, then to learn to walk again without crutches, then to start jogging and finally to start running."
A delegation of United players visited Smith's bedside yesterday afternoon, followed shortly afterwards by his agent Alex Black.
"He is not letting the situation get him down and he is already determined to get back on the pitch as soon as he can," said Black.
It is a battle Black is confident Smith can win, unlike Busst, who never played again after the horrific and totally accidental collision with Denis Irwin inside the United area.
"There were 55,000 people at Old Trafford the day my leg was broken but I can't remember there being any noise at all," recalled Busst, who watched Smith's misfor-tune live on TV.
"Most fans are genuine people and no-one likes to see serious injuries like that. But the good news for Alan is that his injuries aren't career-threatening."