Derby defender Shaun Barker is expected to miss the start of next season recovering from surgery.
The 28-year-old has been hampered by a troublesome knee problem throughout this campaign and finally had an operation last week.
Surgery revealed the damage was worse than expected and plans to have Barker involved in pre-season training are now likely to be shelved, with manager Nigel Clough keen to protect the player`s long-term well-being.
"We are not too hopeful for the start of the season but we will see how he goes. I think with a long season ahead, we will not be rushing him back," Clough told the Derby Evening Telegraph.
"Shaun has played the best part of two years without training very much and he hopefully has another five or six years playing here, so we want him right.
"If he misses a month of the season, it is worth it for the long term. We will make sure he is 100% right to play because we don't want him to go through another season like this one where he has not trained and he has still gone out there and performed at a very high level."