Jason Knight (left) could miss two months of the crisis-hit Championship club's season
Wayne Rooney is under further scrutiny at Derby after it emerged he was responsible for the injury which has sidelined midfielder Jason Knight for up to 12 weeks.
Rooney, the Derby manager, went in for a challenge on Knight during a training game and left the Republic of Ireland international with an ankle injury which threatens to rule him out for at least two months of the crisis-hit Championship club’s season.
The incident occurred at Pennyhill Park, the luxury hotel and spa in Surrey where Derby recently stayed for a pre-season training camp, with Rooney taking part to make up the numbers due to the club’s lack of players.
Rooney has only nine registered senior players, with two of those goalkeepers, and the absence of Knight is another damaging blow to Derby’s campaign as their legal row with the Football League continues.
It is understood that Rooney’s challenge with Knight was a "50-50" and an accident, but it is the 20-year-old academy product who is now facing an extended period out of action.
Rooney has endured a difficult weekend after reporting a range of photographs to Greater Manchester Police which appeared to show him asleep in a hotel room with a group of young women.
An investigation is underway into the photographs, which went viral on Sunday, and there is no suggestion Rooney – England and Manchester United’s record goalscorer – acted inappropriately.
Rooney’s representatives have confirmed the matter has been reported to police. But the incident is another unwanted episode for both Derby and Rooney, with the Championship season less than two weeks away.
Rooney's Derby stayed up in dramatic fashion on the last day of the Championship season
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Derby officials spoke with Rooney on Monday at the club’s training base and will not be commenting while the investigation is ongoing.
On Knight’s injury, Rooney said on Saturday after a 2-1 defeat at Salford: "Jason will be out for eight to 12 weeks. He has rocked his ankle, thankfully, he doesn’t need surgery but needs the time to make sure he gets his ankle strong again.
"Of course (it is a huge blow), everyone knows what Knighty brings to us, he is a fantastic player, great energy, and he will be a loss, but we have to deal with that."
Derby are locked in talks with the EFL over lifting a "full" transfer embargo, which will permit them to sign free agents or players on six-month loans.
It is understood that Derby have been given the green light to now make signings, with defender Curtis Davies the first in line to be offered new terms. Derby kick off their Championship season at home to Huddersfield on August 7.