Derby County defender John Brayford facing spell on sidelines with hamstring injury
FEARS are growing that Derby County defender John Brayford could be sidelined for several weeks by a hamstring injury.
Brayford missed Tuesday's draw at Cardiff City, ending his ever-present run in the side this season.
Derby say they are still assessing the right-back's injury and that it is too early to forecast how long he will be out but coach Andy Garner described it as a "massive blow" when asked about Brayford immediately after the Cardiff game.
There is better news concerning top scorer Jamie Ward, who also sat out the Cardiff game having limped off against Crystal Palace last Friday.
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Ward will miss Saturday's trip to face Birmingham City but he could be back for the home fixture against Leicester City a week on Saturday, though Derby might leave him until after the international break.
Craig Bryson was also absent at Cardiff with a groin injury and Derby will monitor him this week.
There is a possibility the midfielder will be fit for the weekend.
Midfielder Will Hughes is still out and no date has been put on a possible return for him.
James O'Connor (knee), Kieron Freeman (ankle) and Mark O'Brien (knee) are not ready to come back.
On Brayford's injury, coach Johnny Metgod said: "It needs a scan but it's not done yet, so we'll have to see how that progresses over the next few days.
"Whether it's a long-term one, it's hard to tell at the moment."
Summing up the injuries, Metgod added: "We are trying to be as positive as we can be.
"We have players injured who would normally play and that makes a big difference to the team.
"We have to be careful with them. There is no point bringing a player back for one game and then they are out for another four or five weeks.
"But if players are out injured, we have to put other players in and it gives youngsers a chance, like Valentin Gjokaj at Cardiff, and Michael Hoganson and Kieron Freeman in recent weeks."