Derby County captain Shaun Barker is expected to make his long awaited return from injury in Wednesday’s reserve game against Sheffield Wednesday.

Barker, who hasn’t played for Nigel Clough’s side since April having undergone knee surgery, had his comeback delayed twice by setbacks from the injury that has plagued his career, but is targeting a return against Wednesday having been given the all clear by a specialist to step up his rehabilitation ahead of a return to full training last month.

Barker struggled with the injury for the majority of last season and was forced to sit out most of the Rams campaign as they narrowly avoided relegation.

Speaking last month, Rams boss Nigel Clough admitted his side had missed Barker on the pitch, but praised his captain’s influence during his absence.

“His influence is massive.” Clough told the club’s official website. “Whether he is involved or not he is a great influence around the place. Shaun is a good leader on and off the pitch and someone that everyone can look up to."

Derby will be boosted by the return of fellow long-term absentee Paul Green to action, with the midfielder set to feature in the reserve fixture alongside Barker having been out of action for 7 months, also with a knee injury.

Chris Riggot should also play some part in the reserve fixture, with the former Middlesbrough defender hoping to play his first full game for Derby since signing a one year deal to return to Pride Park in the summer.

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