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Derby County club captain Shaun Barker to play for under-21s after nearly three-year injury hell

The centre-back is starting against Doncaster Rovers this afternoon.

Derby County club captain Shaun Barker has had a torrid three years because of injury. The 32-year-old centre back dislocated his kneecap and damaged knee ligaments in a game with Nottingham Forest in 2012 and has not played a game of football since.

During his time on the sidelines he has watched his side push for promotion and had to refute claims he could walk away from the game because of the severity of his knee problem.

However, he returned to first-team training in January and is slowly stepping up his return to competitive action.

In January he told BBC Radio Derby of his return to training:

"I'm delighted but still unfulfilled.

"It's only half a job done, but to get to this stage isn't far off a miracle."

Now he is set to kick a ball in anger once again. Derby County's under-21 side take on their Doncaster Rovers contemporaries today and the club confirmed via their official Twitter account earlier today that Barker would be starting the game - along with fellow long-term knee injury absentee George Thorne, who is stepping up his comeback.

For Barker this must be another massive step. After nearly three years out of action and three operations to go with it, he is finally stepping up his pursuit of a place back in the Derby first-team.

Here's hoping he comes through the game unscathed.

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