It may be a bone the size of his fingernail but it’s caused Newcastle Knights five-eighth Jarrod Mullen plenty of frustration this season.
A fractured sesamoid bone in his right big toe has seen the 28-year-old stuck on the sideline for more than two months.
The bone in question is embedded in the tendon and acts as a pulley for the tendons in the foot.
“It’s where all the pressure goes in my foot,” Mullen explained to the media on Tuesday.
“It’s a tiny little bone about the size of my fingernail, so for a bone like that to be keeping you out for 10 weeks, it’s been pretty frustrating.
“There’s a lot of mechanics that go on in your feet that you don’t realise.”
To alleviate pain and provide more support for the injured toe, Mullen has been changing his football boots and orthotics to allow him to continue to train.
With a carefully managed training schedule, Mullen has felt improvement and has high hopes of playing on Friday night against the Canberra Raiders.
“It’s been a long haul and changing every week, but hopefully I’ll be playing Friday night,” he said.
“It’s feeling a lot better than last two weeks ago when I tried to play in Brisbane but it’s still a day-by-day thing."
Mullen travelled north with the team for the Round 11 Friday night clash ready to make a return to the field, but was a late withdrawal after experience pain and stiffness in his toe on the morning of the game.
“This is the last role of the dice. I don’t want to keep dragging it on because it probably does need surgery at the end of the year,” he said.
“If I can push onto the end of the year and get it done then, that’s the best case scenario.
“There’s still a chance that I won’t need surgery, but with that time off I probably will go in to get it done.”
The return of the playmaker will be a opportune boost for the injury-troubled Knights as the team approaches its encounter with the eleventh placed Canberra Raiders on Friday night at GIO Stadium.
“We need to start winning games definitely,” he said.
“We have to make a bit of a run and a bit of a run now and that all starts on Friday night.
“We know we don’t have the best run home as we had a lot of home games to start off with.
“With the older boys in Jeremy Smith coming back and Kade Snowden, we were missing some forwards there, we have some players coming back which makes my job a lot easier.
“Getting a couple of old heads back to steer the team around, it will be good for the team.”