DERBY County defender Mark O’Brien will miss the next four weeks of the season after been given an extended rest to clear up a knee injury.
The 20-year-old centre-half has been playing through the pain barrier in recent weeks after sustaining damage to the surface of his knee joint.
Despite the Rams defensive lightness ahead of tomorrow’s home game against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Clough insists now is the time to rest the Republic of Ireland under-21 international, but allayed fears that there were any deeper worries.
He said: “Mark needs four weeks of rest as his knee has not settled down in the last week or so, so that’s started as of now.
“It got to the point where Mark couldn’t play at Sheffield Wednesday last weekend because of the pain, so he needs to take a break now.
“It’s nothing to be worried about, we just have to remember that he was out of action for 13 months and returning into competitive action with games coming thick and fast can take its toll on his knee.”
On a positive note, Clough is already excited about O’Brien taking part in pre-season this summer for the first time since signing professional forms in 2010 after injury problems previously prevented the Dublin-born academy graduate from joining in.
“We’re looking forward to him actually having a pre-season,” Clough said.
“We’ll look after him for the next few months, get him through the rest of the season and then we’ll get him in for pre-season.
“That’ll hopefully be a catalyst for him to build on his excellent form in the last few weeks because he’s certainly proved his worth when he has been in the side.”