Jacob Butterfield’s season-ending injury is a big blow to Barnsley according to manager Keith Hill.
Star asset Butterfield, 21, damaged his anterior cruciate ligaments after being on the receiving end of a poor challenge in the New Year’s Eve victory over Leeds United.
A subsequent X-ray revealed the true extent of the damage and Butterfield will undergo an operation tomorrow, before beginning a six-month rehabilitation programme.
The injury not only scuppered a potential lucrative move in this month’s transfer window, but also damages the plans of his manager, who saw the midfielder as a major part of his team strategy this season.
Hill told Barnsley News: “It is very, very sad, both for Jacob and the football club. He’s been instrumental in what we’ve tried to achieve. In training and on matchdays he has been superb, he has been the captain of the side, and now we have lost his services for the remainder of the season.
“He has taken the lead for us, he has developed himself, both in terms of responsibility and more importantly creatively.
“I would go as far as to say we have lost the services of the most sought-after player in the Championship.
“He is a massive asset to Barnsley football club and had attracted big, big interest. Scouts from Premier League clubs and elite Championship clubs have filled our directors’ box this season.
“We expected bids for him in this January transfer windsow and I took two phone calls earlier this week from other Championship clubs regarding Jacob and his situation.
“But the most important thing is that we have lost one of our best players with half of the season still to play.
“But Jacob will come back an even better player, I’ve no doubt about that. He’ll have to deal with a difficult six months at least, but he will be stronger mentally for it. He’ll be appreciative too of the sport, because he lives and breathes football and now he won’t be playing it for a while.
“As for his contract situation we will wait for the dust to settle.
“A new deal for Jacob has been on the table for a while but as I’ve said I fully expected bids to come in for him this month. Now he’s been ruled out because of a bad injury then we will wait and decide what is best for the future, both for him and the football club.
“We will of course meet with his representatives in due course but first and foremost we will give Jacob every support we can during his recovery programme.
“He’s distraught, the lad. He’s bound to feel really low but he has to look forward. He’s a good character and I’m convinced he’ll bounce back stronger.
“With him missing from the team people may begin to realise just how good a player he is.
“He’s a modern-day player, has plenty of energy, is creative, brave, equally comfortable on left or right foot and works extremely hard. He has taken on board everything Flicker [assistant Dave Flitcroft] and I have said to him, especially in terms of his responsibility to the team, both defensively and offensively.
“No wonder so many clubs were looking at him. Not only from the top flight but the elite clubs in this division too.
“But my concern isn’t that we’ve lost a saleable asset. I’m just gutted that we can’t use him.
“We are going to have to play different styles without Jacob in the team.”