DERBY County fans in Ashbourne are putting a brave face on the news that the Rams' latest signing, George Thorne, has been ruled out through injury for up to nine months.
Thorne had undergone surgery in London on Thursday afternoon to repair a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
Hours before, the club had been playing down the injury Thorne received during a friendly against Zenit St Petersburg a week ago, when he limped off after 34 minutes.
Thorne, who was previously on loan with the Rams earlier this year, completed his £2m-plus transfer from West Bromwich Albion after more than a month of negotiations.
Danny LeGrice, chairman of the Derby County supporters club in Ashbourne said it was "a big blow" for everyone involved.
He said: "This is really bad news and a bad situation after it took so long to get the player.
"Coach Steve McClaren appeared to be building his midfield around Thorne, so he will have to think again. But he is an experienced tactician, so I am sure he will be able to do it.
"There is every reason to be optimistic about the season still because there is the making of a good team at Derby, as illustrated by the play-offs in May."
The 21-year-old midfielder had a scan on Wednesday which proved inconclusive, so he left the club's training base in Austria and flew back to England, where another scan revealed the full extent of the damage.
LeGrice added: "This will be a big blow to many supporters who have bought season tickets on the back of Thorne signing. But I think the Rams will be in the promotion mix again at the end of this season.
"McClaren is no mug and he will look at the situation and act accordingly.
"People who heard him speak at a forum at Ashbourne Golf Club recently were enthralled by what he had to say and very encouraged."
The Rams' president and chief executive Sam Rush said that he was "disappointed for George and the news is extremely unfortunate".
He added: "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."