And he insists that it's happened to the best of 'em!
John, who took Joe's place for the 2-2 draw at Aston Villa, says:
"At the end of the day Harry said at the start of the season it is a squad game.
"Look at all the other clubs - the likes of Michael Owen and the Manchester United boys are left out in certain games.
"Joe will be back in, no problem, but I think sometimes it can help younger legs a little bit to give them a rest.
"Even the best players get rotated a little bit but I can't see it lasting too long; Joe is that good a player he can play in any team."
As John's career draws to the autumn years, for Joe and Michael it is still, in effect, the first faltering steps of spring.
"They'll look back and it will build their character a little bit," he says.
"I've been in three relegation battles and I know this one isn't that desperate yet but it hasn't been going great.
"I think as a young player you look back and you take a lot in when things are going bad - more than you think you do.
"It's all right when things are going well, but I'm sure they'll reflect on this in a year's time and think 'I learnt a lot from that season'."
Nature is, of course, cruel - and competitive.
Joe's misfortune was John's opportunity, and he says:
"It was good to get a run out obviously and the game went quite well.
"We could have won it, and played well enough to do so, but it was disappointing having taken the lead to lose it in 6 minutes when we'd played so well.
"The game plan worked, we contained them, and we were actually playing some good stuff.
"So to take the lead and have two decent chances we could have gone 3-0 up, then suddenly be 2-1 down...it's just the way the game goes sometimes.
"After 5 losses or whatever you have got to stop the rot and hopefully we can build on that."
John says the disappointments are part of the game, and adds:
"Football is full of knock backs.
"Look at my situation this year- I've only started 3 games, and I started 28 last year.
"And I don't think I'm any different; I feel a bit fitter to be honest.
"But it's just the way the game is and the emergence of Joe and Michael Carrick has limited me and you just have to grin and bear it."
Not that he is losing any of his enthusiasm; although he hasn't yet signed up for another year, as has been reported, he reveals:
"I haven't signed it yet - but hopefully I will soon.
"I don't want to go elsewhere, or drop down the league."