Weekly Summer Roundup Six
Derby returned from their pre-season training camp in Tenerife earlier this week with the start of the season now firmly on the horizon.
Their first game of pre-season was against Kidiminster Harriers, managed by ex-Ram John Eustace. Eustace did a nice interview on the official club site before the game talking about his coaching career (one season, play off finalist) and his time at Derby and his disappointment at how his playing career came to an end. Eustace was the type of player every club needs – solid and knows their role. By the way, did anybody else notice his new flowing locks?
Anyway, back to the game. Derby fielded two different elevens in either half and won the game comfortably 4-0. It’s pointless reading too much into games at this stage, they’re effectively training sessions but it’s always good to get a win and a clean sheet.
Of the few things to make note of, Derby played in a 4231, Curtis Davies played on the left side of the central defensive duo and captained the side in the second half. Other than that, it was a decent run out.
In regards to transfers, Derby have been linked with two Toms – Lawrence and Huddlestone as well as Matty James from Leicester and Jota at Brentford.
Huddlestone, is rumoured to have a £2million release clause in his deal, but is also attracting interest from a couple of Premier League clubs.
With the move for Glenn Whelan appearing dead in the water (he’ll go to Villa), it would appear that Gary Rowett is determined to recruit a midfield enforcer. Huddlestone is actually a pretty similar player to George Thorne. Tall, strong, not overly mobile with the ability to pick a pass. He’s still only 30 – I’d presumed he was a couple of years older – so he still has a good few more years left in him. If available, he’s certainly a player that Derby should pursue.
Sticking with the midfielders, the Daily Mail (eugh) have us down to have bid £4million for Leicester midfielder Matty James. James was a player signed originally by Nigel Pearson for the Foxes (uh-oh) and formed a formidable partnership with Danny Drinkwater when Leicester won promotion to the Premier League a few years back. He had a good season when Leicester survived relegation in their first season back in the top flight before his season was ended by a serious knee injury late into the campaign. He missed the whole of their title winning season (I hope he still tried to claim a medal) and spent the second half of last season out on loan to Barnsley. A good solid midfielder, if a touch unspectacular, he’d be a good addition and at 25 is at a good age.
If it’s a choice between him and Huddlestone, I’d go for Huddlestone purely because I’m always dubious about a players fitness when they come back from such bad injuries.
In the race to replace Tom Ince, Tom Lawrence (also of Leicester) is another target. Lawrence spent the last season on loan at Ipswich scoring 12 and assisting 12 in a season of struggle for the Tractors. Able to operate across the front three attacking positions, Lawrence would add good flexibility and much needed quality in the final third after Ince’s departure. He won’t come cheap though, with fees of £6million up to £10million being thrown around.
Jota (isn’t that a type of notepaper), the diminutive attacking midfielder from Brentford has been linked in The Sun (don’t get me started). His numbers are excellent and his skill set is different to what’s currently available. Jota is a better player than all of our attackers and if available and willing to move to the club then we should make every effort to make him a Ram. It seems a bit of a long shot and Premier League clubs are also rumoured to be interested but what a coup he could prove to be.
Finally, RamsTV is excellent. The video content that the club is providing really is good. It’s easy to criticise the club at times, we do a lovely job of messing up the football side of things but let’s take a moment and give them some credit for this.
Pre-season can be a massive bore. The friendlies are always a bit drab because there’s no meaning behind them and the only fun we (I) can seem to have is the transfer rumours and gossip so kudos to RamsTV for offering loads of interviews and streaming the friendlies.
The new website’s great too. So well in Derby.