Richard Keogh's agent has criticised Derby County’s decision to terminate the contract of their former club captain, while revealing that the Republic of Ireland international hopes to return to action next November.
Keogh sustained a significant knee ligament injury when he was a back-seat passenger in a car crash on 24 September.
Team-mate Tom Lawrence was the driver of the four-wheel vehicle which crashed into a lamppost near the Derby suburb of Allestree, while fellow Derby player Mason Bennett’s car was also involved in the incident.
Lawrence and Bennett pleaded guilty to drink-driving and were ordered to carry out 180 hours of community service and banned from driving for two years. Both men were also handed 12-month community orders.
The Rams fined Lawrence and Bennett the equivalent of six weeks' wages - the maximum contractual limit - but Keogh was fired by the club for "gross misconduct" last week.
And agent Cos Toffis believes that Keogh’s lengthy service at Pride Park should have been considered in mitigation when the club were deliberating on what disciplinary action to take over a player whose contract was due to run until 2021.
"It was something we were paranoid about, but at no point did we think it was going to happen," Toffis told British radio station Talksport of the dismissal on Monday.
"The only thing I pleaded for is that Richard be treated like family - he deserved to be treated like family.
"Richard played 356 games for the football club and whenever a player commits and dedicates to a football club the way Richard has, I think you become part of that family.
"I don't think I can put into words how much he's hurting and what his family are going through.
"Richard is in a really bad way, it's heartbreaking. Richard's world has been absolutely rocked."
"He's ahead of schedule, so that’s one bit of good news we’ve had over this last week"
The 33-year-old has appealed Derby’s decision and Toffis indicated that a rapprochement between both parties was unlikely, despite reports to the contrary.
"The decision was made by them and they closed that door when they made that decision," the agent said.
"Since that decision had been made my phone hasn’t rung. If they ring I will answer and there will be a conversation, of course.
"But I’m not sure where we go from here.
"There’s an appeal process and we’ll have to get through that and deal with everything from there."
Toffis is certain that Keogh will play again, rating his chances of lacing up his boots again as "one million per cent" and suggesting that the player was already ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation, which had an initial time frame of 15 months.
"He is the most determined character I’ve come across in my life, and anyone who has met him will back that up," Toffis added.
"He’s ahead of schedule, so that’s one bit of good news we’ve had over this last week.
"In 12 or 13 months from now he’ll be putting his boots back on and getting back out there."