Nigel Clough praises Derby County defender Shaun Barker

Shaun Barker
Barker has only missed one game for the Rams this season

Derby County manager Nigel Clough has praised defender Shaun Barker for his willingness to put Championship survival before his own fitness.

Barker has delayed knee surgery until the Rams were safe from relegation.

That was secured on Saturday - despite the 3-2 loss at Norwich - so Barker will go under the knife on Thursday.

Clough told BBC Radio Derby: "It's remarkable for him to play all season when he's hardly trained. He has performed at a very high level."

Derby are scheduled to return to training on 30 June and Clough hopes key centre-half Barker, who has missed just one game this season, will be able to resume light training.

"He will be running and be doing something," Clough said.

"He will have to take it steady but he will be active by then, provided we don't find anything unexpected when we open his knee up."

Barker also hoped next season will see him fully fit after a injury-plagued time at Pride Park since joining in July 2009.

"I hope to get at least half a pre-season behind me because I haven't managed it for the last two seasons and I haven't been at my best for the last two seasons," he said.

"I honestly do think there is more to show. I haven't trained for three of four months. OK, I haven't been at my 100% best but fingers crosed things will look a little bit brighter for me if it all goes well on Thursday."

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