YOUNG Rotherham United hot-shot Jacob Gratton is set to miss the whole of 2020 after suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury.
The teenage striker signed his first professional deal only last month but now faces surgery and months of rehabilitation before he can play again.
It's savage blow for the 18-year-old who has been scoring regularly for the youth team and reserves and is regarded by the Millers as a real talent.
"He's done his cruciate, which is horrendous for him," said manager Paul Warne whose table-topping side are at home to AFC Wimbledon in League One tomorrow. "It's heartbreaking for him.
"We'll look after him. I think it's unlikely we will see him before the turn of the year."
Gratton, after suffering the damage while on youth-team duty, is scheduled to go under the knife at the end of next week.
"We'll try to get the swelling out of his knee and try to build up his quads before his operation," Warne said.
The youngster, who made the first-team bench for Rotherham's 2-2 home draw with Fleetwood Town in December, will be based at the club's senior complex at Roundwood during his recovery rather than at the academy set-up in Brinsworth
"He's now going to be working with our physios," Warne said. "He's coming up here so that will give him a boost - I don't mean that rudely to the academy. He'll be treated as a pro from now on.
"We've had similar injuries here before. The physios, Ross (Burbeary, head of player performance) and the conditioning people are excellent. We'll get him back fitter and stronger. It's just sad for the poor kid."
Gratton's last action came as he scored twice for the youth team in their 3-1 Alliance Youth Cup semi-final victory over Preston North End on February 1.
Warne is pleased that the player managed to earn his first full contract before being sidelined.
"He's gone from scoring in the youth team and for the reserves to signing a pro deal to getting an injury," the boss said. "The only saving grace is that he could have done it six months ago and it could have curtailed any opportunity he had."
Meanwhile, new signing Curtis Tile trained with his teammates for the first time yesterday (Thursday) since his deadline-day switch from Blackpool during the January transfer window.
The centre-half arrived with a minor glute issue and the Millers are working on his fitness before adding him to their push for promotion.
"We need get him right because when he's called upon I need him to be fit," Warne said. "We've used this opportunity of not having many games in quick succession to try to get him into a better place.
"Hopefully he'll train for the next couple of days and then with another week's training under his belt we can involve him."
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