Some hadn’t been used very much. Some hadn’t been used at all. Others hadn’t even been tested at this level.
Yet when Sheffield Wednesday’s injury crisis really took grip and strangled the season, it was up to the fringe players to dig in and pick up the challenge.
While a change in management did offer a fresh opportunity for some who had been left out in the cold, the bitter feeling of a promotion challenge that quickly faded meant that they were coming into a team shrouded in negativity.
What’s more some players could probably have done with being taken out of the firing line or given a rest, but that option wasn’t available.
While all of them had good days and bad days, the fact that they had taken on the task game after game, week after week under a huge dark cloud, has not gone unnoticed by team mates who have been around in much happier times.
In the past week, Sam Hutchinson, Tom Lees and Barry Bannan, all of whom having recently returned to first team action following injury, have paid tribute to the squad for the hard work they put in during a difficult period.
Hutchinson is hoping that his comeback, along with Bannan, at Leeds last week, helps to offer some respite.
“It does a lot for us, me and Baz coming back into the group that is a little bit low on confidence is quite good because we are like new players.
“We have missed all the bad form which is not nice to say.
“I don’t really struggle with confidence so I’m alright but as much as you can give to the players, just a freshness around the group.
“The boys have been brilliant, they’ve been brilliant.
“It’s been a hard season, there’s been loads of stuff going on.
“I feel sorry for all the players, people have said stuff in the press or the fans have said stuff but the players have always given 100% at this club and no matter what everyone says, be it bad performances or not, they have put it in. I have seen it day-in, day-out, the players just get on with it.”
Lees also acknowledged the team who stepped in when key players were missing through injury.
“We have got a group of players who have had a tough time for a good few months and you have players coming back fresh into it with a fresh enthusiasm and enjoying being out on the pitch again and I think it is giving everyone a lift.
“It might sound weird, but fair play to them. They have had to come back in at a difficult time and some of them have not played for a long time and never in this league as well.”
And Bannan said they did everything that was asked of them and credited their stamina in pushing through.
“It was hard, the boys that came in have done brilliant, they tried their hardest every game and that’s all you can ask for,” he said.
“You have to take your hats off to them as well because some of the boys have been asked to play 90 after 90 because we didn’t have enough players.”