It looked innocuous. But it sounded terrible.
When Jonson Clarke-Harris hit the deck during the pre-season friendly against Parkgate FC, it seemed like the kind of fall you see 100 times in any match.
Yet the high-pitched squeal the Rotherham United striker emitted was completely out of keeping with a wrecking-ball of a centre-forward whose game is built around pure, undiluted power.
He lay prone on the turf, received treatment and then limped out of the Millers’ 7-0 win against the non-leaguers in the 25th minute, afforded generous applause by a 1,000-strong crowd as he gingerly made his way back to the dressing room.
Little did they know that that would be the last they’d be seeing of him until next year.
Rotherham will step up their pursuit of new firepower even more now that their 21-year-old record signing has been ruled out for up to nine months with anterior cruciate ligament damage,
At first, the club thought the injury would settle down on its own, but a subsequent scan when the attacker was unable to play during the trip to Poland revealed the worst.
What a way for the poor lad to mark his 22th birthday tomorrow.
The good news is that advances in medical science mean this kind of injury is no longer the career-threatener it used to be.
“It is disappointing, but we have to move on,” manager Alan Stubbs said. “It is part and parcel of football. I am sure that Jono will come back fitter and stronger.
“I think the biggest thing now for any footballer when you receive this kind of news is that the recovery in the modern day is fantastic compared to what it was years ago. We have made great strides in the procedures for this type of injury.
“He actually felt inside that the injury was settling down. Sometimes that can lure you into a false sense of security, and I think on this occasion it has.”
Clarke-Harris started last season with a bang but ended it out of favour under Neil Warnock as the Millers produced an 11-match run to secure their Championship survival.
His raw potential is obvious, and he had six goals by Boxing Day, including spectacular strikes against QPR, Fulham and Bristol City and a penalty hit so hard that Robins goalkeeper Frank Fielding could have done with a crash helmet.
However, he never scored again after the festive period and remains an enigma who has yet to consistently produce as much as his prodigious natural gifts suggest he should.
“It is a real blow, firstly to Jono and obviously for the club,” Stubbs added. “The injury came from a nothing kind of challenge, but unfortunately our worst fears have now been confirmed.”
The new boss is working hard to bring in new blood. A striker a top priority, and he is also looking for midfield reinforcements after veteran Dean Whitehead chose to remain with Huddersfield Town.
The 34-year-old had been due at New York last week to sign, but said yesterday: “I’ve received the offer (from Rotherham). I’ve had a look at it, but Huddersfield is the place for me. I want to stay here and fight for my place.”
A season-long loan deal for Brighton’s Jake Forster-Caskey has now been completed and the 22-year-old’s arrival adds midfield creativity.
Another midfield man, Benedikt Saller, who had been on trial with Rotherham, is thought to be training with Danish side Brondby.
Back to J C-H, and the Millers will schedule his op as quickly as they can so he can embark on his recovery without delay.
“We will do everything we can to try to get Jono back as soon as possible,” Stubbs pledged.
The birthday boy remains defiant and typically sure of his physical capabilities.
“Proper shock to me,” he tweeted. “It’s going to be a long road back, but I’m more than sure I can do it.”