Roberto Di Matteo has expressed empathy with Owen Hargreaves' injury struggles ahead of West Brom's trip to Manchester United.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed midfielder Hargreaves, who has been plagued by a chronic knee problem for much of the last two years, will not run out against the Baggies on Saturday, despite reports suggesting otherwise.
Albion boss Di Matteo sustained a horrific broken leg while playing for Chelsea in the UEFA Cup in 2001, and after 18 months of failed rehabilitation, was forced to retire at the age of 31.
And the manager says he would hate to see 29-year-old Hargreaves go down the same route.
"Genuinely I hope that he will be able to play football again," said Di Matteo.
"He's been injured for a long time but he's still got the hope to be able to play again.
"You don't want to see anybody ending their career because of injury because a footballer's career is short anyway."
Di Matteo, whose final Premier League match was a 3-3 draw at Old Trafford, insists he has no regrets about bringing down the curtain on his playing career following a tortuous rehabilitation period.
"It's a long story. I had a lot of complications after the triple fracture," he said. "From then on, the nightmare started.
"Every morning I get up and I get reminded by my leg that I've had an injury, but that's life."
The debate over the number of serious injuries picked up by players has raged this season, but Di Matteo feels that long lay-offs sometimes cannot be avoided.
He said: "We all love the fast pace of the English league, so there is a danger obviously but it's part of the game.
"My only concern is that we need to protect the players.
"Everybody loves a good tackle but there's a fine line between that and being dangerous.
"We just need to be careful because there's been some nasty injuries so far, and nobody wants to see players getting broken legs or having career ending injuries."
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