'This [missing the trip to Flanders] was not a big enough thing for me to drop Andrew Flintoff. No way was it a serious enough issue to do that, to finish someone's career'.
Those words should chill Flintoff rather than comfort him.
Just like the other Manchester uber-lad Ricky Hatton, Flintoff refuses to concede the damage alcohol is doing. He's 31, persistently injured and the fine motor skills required to bat against the world's best bowlers have been eroded.
It's not over yet, but as Flower says, it may only be a session or two away.