Derby manager Nigel Clough hopes Shaun Barker could have surgery on his persistent knee injury by next week.
The centre-half is playing on through the pain barrier after his operation was put on hold until the club are safe in the Championship.
The Rams next have two home games against Coventry on Saturday and Leeds on Tuesday and Clough hopes the club - who are nine points clear of the relegation zone with seven games remaining - can achieve safety quickly to allow Barker to go under the surgeon's knife.
He said: "We want him in as soon as possible. With two home games in four days - and depending on other results elsewhere - he could be in hospital on Wednesday."