BLUEBIRDS boss Mark Collier says that he was devastated to hear that Rob Dean’s knee injury was career-ending.

The Chippenham Town midfielder was told by surgeons yesterday that he will never play football again after going under the knife for the second time to begin repairing the damage he sustained during his horrific knee dislocation at Hungerford Town last month.

Collier first worked with the 24-year-old when he was a youngster at Swindon Town’s academy and the Hardenhuish Park chief says that his immediate thoughts are with Dean and his family.

“It’s absolutely devastating news - not just for Rob but for the whole club as well,” said Collier.

“He was my first big signing but football has to take a back seat at the moment because everyone’s thoughts are just with him.

“He’s a good player but also a great lad and the most important thing is that he gets himself back fully fit as quickly as possible so that he can have as normal life as possible.

“He’s a lad I’ve coached since he was nine-years-old and I had him at Swindon Town right through until he was 16, so I’ve known him and his family for a long time.

“We were delighted to get his signature (in November last year) and he was excited to join Chippenham Town because he thought it was a good move for him. He was showing signs of getting better and better as a player.

“So it’s devastating news for me - not just as his manager but also as a friend.

“It’s extremely difficult news for Rob to take but he’s got a close family around him. His dad told me that his phone is going to be switched off for a little while whilst he gets his head around things but he did want people to know what was going on.”

Dean, who lives in Swindon and works for Nationwide, joined Chippenham from Swindon Supermarine last year and had impressed during his spell at Hardenhuish Park, scoring seven goals in a Bluebirds shirt.

The midfielder has also previously played for Hellenic League Highworth Town and Division One South & West Cirencester Town.