Rovers have revealed that defender Sam Barnes has sustained an anterior cruciate knee ligament injury.

As a result, the 21-year-old is set for an extended period on the sidelines.

It is a huge blow to the Academy prospect who enjoyed an excellent pre-season. Barnes made the matchday squad for the first time on the opening day against QPR due to an injury picked up by Hayden Carter.

A hamstring issue is set to keep Carter out of action for the remainder of the month.

Barnes will now join him on the treatment table in a bitter blow for the defender.

“We lost Sam the other day. It was a very bad injury for Sam and he will be out for most of the season,” head coach Jon Dahl Tomasson said.

“I feel really sorry for the boy. He got the chance, caught my eye, and was very close to the squad.

“He was on the bench for the first game and I feel really sorry for him getting a bad injury on his knee.

“It’s a cruciate ligament injury.”

Barnes was handed a squad number for the first time after playing three full matches in pre-season and was praised by Tomasson for his display in the win at Hartlepool United.

Barnes, who has made 39 appearances for Rovers in Premier League 2, missed a large chunk of last season through injury, but his return to the fold in the second half of the campaign helped inspire an excellent finish for Mike Sheron’s side.

He took that form into the summer when he became a regular in pre-season, but must now begin his rehabilitation.

Tomasson had planned to keep Barnes around the squad, and says the club will look to hand him an extended contract.

“I would have kept him around the squad,” Tomasson explained.

“It’s tough for him but he’s a tough boy. I’ve told him that he’s still young, he’s a tough boy.

“I’ve told him to stay positive in a difficult situation.

“We need to support the young boy as a club.”