DERBY County have been dealt a huge injury blow ahead of the new Championship campaign after George Thorne was ruled out for up to nine months.
Midfielder Thorne, the Rams' big summer signing, was undergoing surgery in London this afternoon to repair a ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament in his left knee.
He suffered the damage in the defeat by Zenit St Petersburg on Tuesday night and limped off after 34 minutes.
At first, it was thought not to be too serious an injury and he had only jarred his knee.
The 21-year-old midfielder had a scan yesterday which proved inconclusive and so he left the club's training base in Austria and flew from Vienna to Heathrow before having another scan in Brentford, and the full extent of the damage was revealed.
Thorne completed his £2m-plus transfer from West Bromwich Albion less than a week ago.
The club, head coach Steve McClaren and the fans were delighted to see the player sign after he impressed during a loan spell last season.
Rams' President & Chief Executive Sam Rush said: “We’re disappointed for George and the news is extremely unfortunate.
“He will have all the support he needs from the Club and he will receive the best possible treatment to ensure he makes a full recovery.
“Steve McClaren has assembled a good, strong and talented squad for the forthcoming season and an unexpected event such as this is something as a club that we will deal with.”