Derby boss Phillip Cocu has called on the squad to remain professional after Richard Keogh’s sacking.
The defender is reportedly appealing the Rams’ decision to dismiss him on Wednesday for gross misconduct over his involvement in a crash which led to the arrest of team-mates Tom Lawrence and Mason Bennett.
Keogh is facing at least a year out after suffering a serious knee injury in the crash in September following a squad outing, with Lawrence and Bennett convicted of drink-driving.
The Republic of Ireland international, who was contracted to the Rams until 2021, has the right to appeal within 14 days of the decision to dismiss him.
“I think for everybody it is a difficult and hard situation,” Cocu told a press conference ahead of Saturday’s Sky Bet Championship visit of Middlesbrough.
“At the moment I cannot go into the matter, it is still ongoing. It has been a club decision – it is very complicated.
“We have to make sure we try and focus on the game on Saturday.
“We have to prepare and show our professionalism, and focus on the game against Middlesbrough.”
The Professional Footballers’ Association is supporting Keogh, who made 356 appearances for the Rams after joining from Coventry in 2012.
A Derby statement on Wednesday confirmed their decision.
It read: “Derby County Football Club has completed the disciplinary hearing regarding Richard Keogh in respect of his involvement in the events of Tuesday, September 24th.
“As a result of that process, Mr Keogh has had his contract terminated with immediate effect for gross misconduct.
“He has the right of appeal within 14 days.
“We have said from the outset, the club will not tolerate any of its players or staff behaving in a manner which puts themselves, their colleagues, and members of the general public at risk of injury or worse, or which brings the club into disrepute.
“The club will be making no further comment at this time regards this matter, until the conclusion of any potential appeal.”
Bennett and Lawrence were fined six weeks’ wages by the Rams, while Derby magistrates’ court ordered the players to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work, gave them a 12-month community order and banned them from driving for two years.
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