The cruelty of Giuseppe Rossi's knee injury on January 6 is not lost on anyone. The Italy international had missed two seasons with injuries to the ACL in his right knee before starting the season like gangbusters at Fiorentina, scoring 14 times in 18 games and earning a call back to the national team.
That made it all the more heartbreaking to watch Rossi writhing on the ground after a terrible tackle by Livorno's Leandro Rinaudo, clutching that right knee.
Fortunately, Rossi did not tear the ACL again, although doctors did identify a "stress" on the previously repaired ligament.
Recent news has been encouraging. Ben Gladwell of ESPN FC reported this week that Rossi could potentially return to the team before the end of April.
That would mean that he would be ready in plenty of time for the World Cup in June. Italy manager Cesare Prandelli was quoted by Gladwell a week after his injury that he would "wait for him right to the very end."
Even with the optimistic timetable that was revealed this week, there is still a possibility that Rossi will miss FIFA's showpiece in Brazil. He was in a similar situation two years ago after his first injury, when he rushed himself to be ready for Euro 2012 and reinjured his knee in training.
Rossi has certainly learned the lesson of that, but all the same it would behoove Prandelli to start thinking about alternatives if the worst comes to pass.
Here are six players who could take Rossi's place in the Italian roster if he isn't available to partner with Mario Balotelli.