BURTON Albion left-back Damien McCrory has been ruled out for the season and is almost certain to need a knee operation.
The 24-year-old defender damaged cartilage in the joint and is expected to be out for around four months, also ruling him out of pre-season.
“It’s a blow,” said Brewers boss Gary Rowett. “We pretty sure he’ll need an operation, although it isn’t 100 per cent certain yet.
“We’ve been trying to manage it, but it’s probably not going to get better without an operation.
“If he needs to have the operation, we’ll look to get that done as quickly as we can.”
McCrory has been Albion’s Mr Consistent this season and has rarely had a poor game.
He has made 47 appearances in all competitions to go with the 52 he made last season.
“He’s been as good as anyone,” said Rowett. “He’s actually probably been our most consistent player over the last two years.
“Damo’s a bit of an unsung hero – he doesn’t get too much praise, but just goes about his business with the minimum of fuss.
“He’s a very easy player to manage and doesn’t really need managing too much.”
While disappointed at losing a key member of his side, Rowett is confident there are players to replace the Irishman.
Phil Edwards played at left-back in the 1-0 defeat at Northampton on Saturday, while Callum McFadzean and Shane Cansdell-Sherriff can play there.
Chris Hussey, out on loan at Bury, is a left-back by trade, but his recall is unlikely at this stage.
“There are no excuses for missing Damo,” said the manager. “We’ve got options there. I would rather Damo were in the team, of course, but we’ve got cover.”
Another player who could miss the remainder of the season is keeper Rob Lainton.
The 24-year-old on-loan Bury custodian damaged soft tissue in his finger while trying to save Northampton’s winner at Sixfields.
“He’ll be disappointed he didn’t do better with the goal,” said Rowett. “But that’s history now.
“Deano (Lyness) will come back in and he’s never let us down in the past - he’s been good.
“You could argue he should be having the opportunity to play.”
Lainton’s injury also makes the decision to sign Freddy Hall on a short-term deal a wise one.
At the time a few question marks were raised with the shortage of goals in Albion’s side - but the Brewers are now covered in the keeping department for the duration of the play-offs.
“A few people raised eyebrows when I signed Freddy,” said Rowett. “We needed to plan ahead a bit further than one or two weeks.
“We knew Rob’s loan wouldn’t extend to the play-off final if we got that far.
“Now we’re going to need Freddy as well and he’ll push Deano for the shirt.”