Bristol City rocked by season-ending injury announced before Hull City game

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Bristol City are light on numbers at the back, and they’ve been dealt another injury problem

Nigel Pearson has confirmed that Bristol City defender Rob Atkinson will miss the remainder of the season with a ruptured ACL.

Atkinson was stretchered off after 17 minutes in the Robins’ 1-1 draw at Sunderland on Saturday, following an innocuous clash with Amad Diallo. The worst was feared after Atkinson went down while holding his knee, and his manager has since confirmed the extent of the injury.

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He has been a staple in City’s defence over recent months and a key part of their ongoing 11-match unbeaten run, but Pearson’s side will have to make do without the 24-year-old for their remaining games this term. Tomas Kalas replaced Atkinson last weekend, whilst there are several members of the first-team squad that can be moved to centre-back, such as Andy King, Cameron Pring and George Tanner. Kal Naismith is out for next few weeks, but can also cover that role should he be needed.

“He’s ruptured his ACL, so that’s his season done,” Pearson said about Atkinson in his pre-match press conference ahead of the visit of Hull City to Ashton Gate this weekend.

“He’s going to have to wait a couple of weeks before he has surgery, that’s a normal procedure these days to let it settle down. It’s a blow for him and for us, but we’ll deal with it.”

Following a string of impressive performances, including his fourth goal of the season against Wigan Athletic last week, and with a highly anticipated FA Cup fifth-round tie against Manchester City looming, the timing will add further insult to injury for Atkinson. But, Pearson said the defender is in good spirits.

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“Typical Rob, very measured and he’s dealing with it as well as anybody can,” he said. “I think one of the difficulties for players who are regular performers is to get their heads around what it feels like to be out for a long time. We’ve got to give him a bit of time to come to terms with that.

“But, he knows he's in a place in terms of the support that he’ll get here, and the medical care that he’ll get will be exceptional, so we don’t worry about those sorts of issues. I think the players know themselves that they’re in a good environment to get the best outcome when they're recovering from any kind of injury, so that’s a positive.”

“But, of course, it’s a huge disappointment for him and for us because the defenders have been playing particularly well and he and Zak have established a good partnership. That’s life, I’m afraid.”

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