It makes no difference to Carlisle United’s relegation, won’t apply so much as a scratch to what they do in League Two next season and, as a line in the Blues’ overall story, will be lucky to get a mention in the index.

And some, jaded with United’s failure in 2023/24, may simply have scrolled on by, or scoffed before making another quip about Joshua Kayode needing to be careful holding that phone, or it might cause him another injury, ho ho ho.

Resentment at something that hasn’t worked is understandable. A campaign like this one at Carlisle, with all its failures and mishaps, is very much a petri dish for cynicism.

Can we, though, pause before giving the story of Kayode all of that? Can we take at least this one thing in isolation and just smile at the footage of the man himself smiling, having played his first game for seven months, declaring ‘Blue Army' into United’s official camera at Cheltenham Town?

Can we just be happy for him, and hope that a career that has been deprived of far too much recently can have a clearer run now?

Can we hold onto this hope even as the tale of Kayode this season has been of something missing rather than something there, of a void where a capable, line-leading, potentially relegation-averting centre-forward should have been?

And can we certainly hold with the remarks seen in the odd social media place on Tuesday night, when images of the man back in the squad for the first time since last September were met with speculation that he might hurt himself getting off the bus?

I know most will have entertained the sight in friendlier terms than that. But we should never ignore how the rare comment, the isolated barb, can penetrate.

“I had 11 years as a footballer, and was fairly thick-skinned, but we’re human,” the former United winger Jeff Thorpe told me, when recounting a career which had more physical misfortune than was ever fair. “I remember one of the directors at Carlisle saying, ‘You’re not injured again, are you?’

News and Star: Jeff Thorpe once spoke of how casual quips about injuries hurt himJeff Thorpe once spoke of how casual quips about injuries hurt him (Image: News & Star)

“People might say things like that with no understanding of the trouble, psychologically, that players have when they’re injured. Some may rise to it. I might have laughed it off. But my shoulders slumped and, inside…I didn’t want to be around the club.”

I have no idea how Kayode has felt over the last seven months, whether any such comments have come his way, whether he’s struggled psychologically or whether he’s been entirely iron-willed in his recovery. Yet I do know that being sidelined through his particular circumstances isn’t something that should open the door to cheap criticism, even if it has felt like one more chapter in a dire story at United this campaign.

How, after all, can you term a player “injury-prone” when his shoulder is dislocated by a quite terrible challenge, as Kayode’s was at Accrington Stanley last September? A calf muscle did then fail him when trying to work his way back in the winter, and it is true that injuries have not been Kayode’s friend in seasons before this one.

But this is still a young man’s life, his profession, something to which he’s dedicated himself since childhood. It must have felt more precarious than ever as he faced up to another season of rehabilitation rather than regular action.

Should he make an appearance against Blackpool today, it will be Kayode’s first at Brunton Park since the final day of the 2020/21 season, when his previous loan spell ended with a goalless draw against Walsall.

That concluded a bittersweet collective campaign under Chris Beech but one where Kayode had put in plenty of miles, with much expected of him as United’s physical frontman. Since then, three seasons have yielded only 47 appearances at an average of 16.

And since that Walsall game, three years ago, he’s started nine league games. Partly this is a consequence of being on the fringe of first-team regularity at Rotherham United but also it’s been a result of other injuries, including at MK Dons last season, and a definite slowing of the progress that looked to be quite vibrant in his early times when first borrowed by the Blues.

If there’s a player whose well-being deserves looking after, then, it’s this one. Kayode is 24 next month, an age where, ideally, he’ll be growing into himself as a professional footballer of a certain level: still young, but maturing, with appearances behind him and some good and hardened know-how in the memory bank.

News and Star: Kayode could make his first Brunton Park appearance for three years todayKayode could make his first Brunton Park appearance for three years today (Image: Richard Parkes)

We are better, and healthier, wishing such a man well, rather than simply writing the whole thing up as a waste of time in terms of what United could have done, could have had.

It's true that a season like this one always takes us closer than ever to the line between justified criticism and risky remarks when someone who’s struggling might be in the crosshairs. In terms of performance, there has to be more leeway from the receiver when you're bottom of the league and an amount of flak is flying.

It wasn’t the most comfortable watch, for example, seeing Sam Lavelle’s club interview the other week when the captain tried to describe a goal celebration differently from how some people interpreted an ear-cupping gesture. It was not a bite back at fans, he said, more a message to himself for how he’s defied criticism to keep going.

None of this is greatly relevant to Carlisle losing games and conceding goals most weeks. A skipper and regular member of the back line with the worst defensive record in the division can’t expect not to be the lightning rod for some of that. Nor can moments like Charlton away, among others, be sidelined when it comes to debating who’s fit for a place in the team.

Yet it does still pay, at times, to think of what we say and how we say it. No footballer or team is entitled to stand above being called rubbish when the output is exactly that, and it remains a sport where only the strongest survive, but there are occasions where compassion serves us better.

Such as with United’s number 28 right now. So whatever happens with the Blues, once 2023/24 fades away, I still hope Josh Kayode goes on to have the career he always dreamed of.