RYAN Taylor was in denial. After all, it couldn’t happen twice, could it?
But it can, and it did.
This was April last year.
Taylor was lying, prone, in agony clutching his right knee.
He had just come through seven months of painstaking and meticulous rehabilitation from a ruptured cruciate ligament.
Then the same thing happened at Newcastle United’s Benton training ground.
There wasn’t even anywhere near him on the practice pitch.
There wasn’t even a tackle, just an unfortunate twist of the knee.
It just happened.
Luckless Taylor initially convinced himself that it wasn’t the same injury that he had suffered in a Europa League qualifier against Atromitos at St James’s Park in August 2012.
The 29-year-old had scored a trademark free-kick in the first leg, which kicked off with the temperature approaching 40 degrees in Athens.
But there was a chill in the air a week later on Tyneside.
And a scan a few days after the game confirmed his and the club’s worst fears.
Taylor isn’t ashamed to admit there were tears in the doctor’s room when he was told he would miss another season of football.
“I tried to convince myself it wasn’t,” Taylor told SportMail in an exclusive interview.
“I knew I’d done something, but I tried to convince myself it wasn’t the same injury.
“I was trying to remain positive until I had the scan.
“There was nobody near me in training. There was just one twist.
“I had the scan and it didn’t sink in until I came back in.
“There were tears in the doc’s room. I didn’t know what to do at the time.
“I’d just worked for seven months solid to make sure I was back. I was looking towards the next season, not the last three or four games (of the 2012-13 season). I wasn’t interested, to be honest.
“It would have been nice, but it wasn’t the main concern.
“The lowest point was being told it’s a re-rupture. It didn’t sink in – I tried to still think it wasn’t.
“When I came back in and talked to the doc, that’s when it all hit me. That was definitely the lowest point.
“It took a couple of weeks to get over it.
“They gave me some time off to just have some family time.”
Once he had come to terms with what had happened, Taylor focused on what he had to do.
“We just came back and spoke to a couple of people,” said the likeable Liverpudlian, signed from Wigan Athletic in 2009.
“We realised the best one to go to was The Steadman Clinic over in Colorado.
“I just didn’t know why it happened again until we went and saw the guys over in Colorado.
“They figured everything out as to what the problem was and they have corrected it now.
“We went out there and I’ve been as positive as I could have been. There was an issue with the first one, and they fixed it. Now it should be fine.”
Alan Shearer and Michael Owen are among those to have undergone procedures at the world-renowned Steadman Clinic.
And Taylor sought their advice before deciding to make the journey across the Atlantic to Colorado with the club’s long-serving and experienced physio Derek Wright, who has been with him every step of the way.
And the surgeons there were to discover why Taylor had suffered a second, agonising rupture.
“I spoke to Michael, Jimmy Bullard, Al (Shearer) and Jamie Redknapp,” said Taylor, who is working towards a return to training next month when his team-mates report back to the club.
“Because I knew it was such big surgery for me career-wise, I had to make sure it was right.
“I spoke to people who had been over there and come back from the same injury.
“They gave me the green light – everyone was so positive about the place. I was like ‘come on, let’s get over there’.
“But things didn’t work out. I had to have one operation and go back six months later to get the cruciate put in. That was the problem of why the first one went.”
Taylor has needed support from the club’s staff and his team-mates.
And he has got it, forging an especially strong bond with Wright.
“Every day, most players have asked how I’m getting on,” he said.
“On the staff side, every single one of the staff have been amazing – from the manager to the kit men.
“The physios and doctor are fantastic.”
Taylor embarked on the players’ “lap of appreciation” after the final game of the season last month.
Hopefully, he’ll be back on the field in a black and white shirt soon.