Liverpool loanee Daniel Sturridge limped off the field after just three minutes as West Brom went on to lose 3-0 to Chelsea on Monday night.
Sturridge joined the Baggies on a temporary deal at the end of the January transfer window, having made just five starts in the first half of the season.
Largely avoiding fitness issues, Sturridge’s lack of minutes was primarily due to the form of Roberto Firmino, who hit the 20-goal mark for the first time for the Reds on Sunday.
But despite this, West Brom manager Alan Pardew acknowledged the need to manage his loan striker carefully, saying “he won’t be pushed in training.”
Instead Pardew planned for Sturridge to work his way towards match fitness with a consistent run of games, and he made his second consecutive start against his former club.
This failed to pay off, however, as the 28-year-old was forced to depart with a hamstring problem in the opening stages at Stamford Bridge.
A major blow for both Sturridge and his loan club, who are rooted to the bottom of the table, this is a stark reminder of the setbacks he has faced in recent years.
Speaking after the game Pardew explained how he was hopeful Sturridge would only miss “a couple of weeks,” but his track record suggests that is doubtful.
With only 11 Premier League games left until the end of the season, Sturridge is now unlikely to force his way into Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the World Cup in Russia.
The hope was that a run of starts, and goals, would earn the No. 15 an outside chance of making it to Russia, but even missing two weeks now could be costly.
West Brom do only play twice between now and the end of the month, which would give Sturridge an opportunity to return to fitness for the trip to Watford on March 3.
But his most recent layoff at Liverpool lasted six weeks, missing 11 games, despite Jurgen Klopp describing his injury as “not a big deal.”
Pardew’s urgency in getting him back into the fold, saying “we need to get him back,” only compounds the issue, as Sturridge has typically required a lengthier recovery time.
Hopefully West Brom don’t rush him back, or his long-term problems are only likely to continue.