Former Carlisle United loan midfielder Harry Arter and Jeff Hendrick have leapt to the defence of ex-Blues defender Richard Keogh after he was sacked by Derby County.

Keogh, 33, who played for Carlisle from 2008 to 2010 after an earlier loan spell with the club, was shown the door at Pride Park yesterday after he decided not to accept an offer of reduced wages in order to stay at the Championship club.

He sustained serious injuries at the end of a team-bonding night last month, suffering knee ligament damage that is likely to keep him on the sidelines for more than a year.

Keogh was in the back seat of Tom Lawrence’s car when it crashed into a lamp post after the night out on September 24.

But, on Twitter, Arter, on loan at Fulham from Bournemouth, said: "So, the one left unconscious in the car and not arrested gets sacked."

Hendrick, who also played with Keogh at Derby for four years, retweeted Arter and echoed his sentiments.

"Agree. Talk about kicking a man [the captain] while he is down, instead of helping him through this physically and mentally tough time," Hendrick said.

In a statement, Derby wrote: "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.

"As 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."

Lawrence, who also had a loan spell at Brunton Park, and team-mate Mason Bennett were fined, banned from driving for two years and ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work for their part in the car crash, which happened on the A6.

The pair appeared in court on October 15 after being charged with drink driving. Derby also fined Lawrence and Bennett six weeks’ wages each.

Keogh joined the Rams from Coventry in 2012 and went on to make 356 appearances, leading Frank Lampard's side to last season's Sky Bet Championship play-off final against Aston Villa at Wembley.

Arter's loan stint at Carlisle came in 2011, while Lawrence spent time with the Cumbrians during their 2013/14 season.

In total, Republic of Ireland international Keogh made 95 appearances for United, scoring six goals.