Derby captain Shaun Barker is facing a long road back to fitness after already being ruled out for the whole of next season.
The 29-year-old was seriously injured in Derby's 1-0 win over rivals Nottingham Forest in March and was found to have dislocated his kneecap in addition to rupturing his medial and cruciate ligaments.
Derby boss Nigel Clough is keen to put no pressure on Barker to return and will do all he can to keep the skipper involved.
Clough said: "We're certainly not putting any timescales on things as the main thing is that Shaun comes back fit, strong and ready to play again.
"But he certainly won't be back in action for us next season.
"He's had the surgery now and it's a long way back for him. We'll support him all the way and he has a massive part to play as our club captain.
"He'll remain involved as much as possible because he is a natural leader and someone all the players look up to."
Derby coach Johnny Metgod has also confirmed that the club will be offering new deals to Paul Green and Jamie Ward.
Ward's current contract expires in 2013 and the club retain the option of adding a further year, while Green is out-of-contract in the summer, having previously rejected a new deal.
But Derby are set to return with another offer for the 28-year-old and Metgod confirmed discussions will begin with both players soon.
He said: "The club has been talking to their representatives and I think it is very, very likely we are going to offer them something in the near future.
"All the power is with the players. They are the ones ultimately who decide which way they want to go.
"As a club, you can try to do everything you can, but if a player's contract is up it is still down to the player what he wants to do."