George Thorne is still on the road to full fitness, and he is planning a return to action for early 2015.
He became a key figure in Steve McClaren’s side, as they reached, and then cruelly lost, the Play-Off Final to QPR, and it was considered a major coup for the Rams to secure the England youth international on a four-year contract.
However, four days after signing, the 21-year-old suffered a cruciate ligament injury during a pre-season friendly with Zenit St Petersburg, ruling him out for roughly nine months.
Despite his injury, Thorne has revealed that he is remaining positive and is fighting to get back to full fitness sooner rather than later, and is hoping for a return in early-2015.
Speaking to BBC Radio Derby, Thorne said: "I'm feeling positive and hitting the targets I want to reach.
"I'd like to think I will be back before the end of the season and I will aim for early new year but that depends on how the next few months progress.”
Having suffered a serious knee injury whilst breaking into the West Brom first-team as a youngster, Thorne is well aware of the process one must go through to complete a rehabilitation programme, and he feels as if he is prepared for whatever obstacles may stand in his way.
"It has certainly helped me in terms of rehabilitation, my previous injuries put me in good stead for that,” the midfielder added.
"I know my targets, I know the exercises, I know the feelings and warnings so I am ready for the remainder of my rehabilitation.”
A return in early new year would give Thorne a number of months to have his say upon the Championship title race, with Derby currently fighting at the top end of the table heading into the season proper.