Derby defender Shaun Barker is expected to miss the start of next season after undergoing an operation on his persistent knee problem.
The 28-year-old has been hampered by the complaint throughout this campaign and was finally forced to go under the knife last week.
Surgery revealed that the damage was worse than expected and plans to have Barker involved in pre-season training are now likely to be shelved.
Rams boss Nigel Clough is keen to focus on the long-term future of the former Rotherham and Blackpool man and will not rush him back into action.
"We are not too hopeful for the start of the season but we will see how he goes," Clough told the Derby Evening Telegraph.
"Shaun has played the best part of two years without training very much.
"He hopefully has another five or six years playing and we hope he is here for the next five or six years. So we want him right. If he misses a month of the season, it is worth it for the long term.
"The knee was a little bit worse than we had hoped and so we will see how he is in the next couple of months and see what sort of shape he is in come July.
"I think with a long season ahead, we will not be rushing him back.
"We will make sure he is 100 per cent 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."
Meanwhile, midfielder Paul Green has started on the long road to recovery after surgery on the anterior cruciate ligament he ruptured in his right knee.
The Republic of Ireland international sustained the long-term problem in an awkward fall during the 4-1 defeat at Cardiff in April.
He will not be back in action until late this year at the earliest and had to wait until Wednesday of this week to undergo the reconstruction procedure due to the swelling in his knee.
Derby physio Neil Sullivan told the club's official website: "The surgeon was very happy with the result of the operation and Paul will start his rehabilitation work immediately."