In the build-up to the Championship play-off final, the opinion that Sam Hutchinson should be handed his first start in two months for Sheffield Wednesday was almost unanimous.
The combative nature of Hutchinson would be ideal against a physically commanding Hull City side and much more suited than the more cultured play of Alex Lopez.
So it was widely welcomed when the former Chelsea trainee was present in the starting XI at Wembley Stadium.
And he was arguably Wednesday’s best outfield player during what was overall a disappointing performance in defeat to the Tigers.
That the 26-year-old was in the side at all was somewhat of a miracle given a debilitating bout of glandular fever which robbed him of a chance to feature in the regular season run-in.
“The doctors weren’t sure I would play again in the season,” he said.
“It’s horrible as you still don’t feel the same because it’s still in your system for ages.
“I was lucky to play in the final.
“But the gaffer wanted to push me and I wanted to push myself.”
His return to action was testament to the nature of a player who battled back from retirement at the age of 21 due to a knee injury.
And the desire of head coach Carlos Carvalhal to have Hutchinson present for the play-off games was demonstrative of the impact the midfielder made for Wednesday last season.
For the first time since his arrival at Hillsborough, injury issues did not plague Hutchinson. It was his initially eye-watering disciplinary record that punctuated his appearances for the first three quarters of the season.
His habit for picking up yellow cards in almost every game was tolerated because of his brilliant performances in a deep-lying midfield role and his excellent work as a stand-in centre half.
He has admitted previously the past season was the most enjoyable of his career to date. And playing regularly, before his illness, was a major reason for that.
“It has been brilliant to have been part of the team,” Hutchinson said.
“I would have played more games but for the glandular fever.
“Anything was a bonus after that.”
His return to the starting XI came on a day of disappointment as Wednesday failed to end their Premier League exile at the 16 year mark.
But Hutchinson insists the players gave their all at Wembley.
He said: “We were all disappointed. We tried our best.
“Everybody played their part and was gutted.
“Everybody goes in each day and works hard.
“It was a special day and you can’t take that away from the lads because we worked our hardest and tried our best.
“We just fell short.
“But Sheffield Wednesday hadn’t been to Wembley for a long time and to see the fans after the game, they were brilliant.
“I just feel sorry for the fans.”