Derby midfielder Stephen Pearson will have a knee operation this week and will miss the start of next season.
The 27-year-old is set for surgery on Thursday and will be out for around four months. The news comes as a blow to the Rams at the end of a season in which they have been crippled by injuries.
"Stephen will be out for probably four months, so straight away he will not be available for pre-season and the first month or six weeks of next season," said manager Nigel Clough. "But we have to utilise the two to two-and-a-half months of the summer now."
He added: "The operation really should have been planned after he got sent off against Ipswich - even then we would have gained two weeks. The good thing is he is a fit lad anyway and will probably not need as much fitness work as others to come back."
On a personal note, Pearson has enjoyed his most consistent campaign in a Rams shirt. He has started 34 of the 45 Championship games and made a total of 42 appearances. It is his best season for appearances since 2003-04 when he made 47 in all competitions for Motherwell and Celtic.
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