Derby County Opinion: Why the Rams should make a move for Damian Oko
Damian Oko, 22, started his career at Zaglebie Lubin, progressing through the club’s youth ranks before making his first-team debut in October last year. He managed 17 appearances in his debut season in the top tier of Polish football, impressing with a series of standout performances.
And those performances have caught the attention of Derby County, who will be desperate to put the play-off final disappointment behind them as Frank Lampard plans for next season.
The Rams have already snapped up Graeme Shinnie on a free transfer from Aberdeen and are looking out for reinforcements to mount another assault on promotion. Lampard has a very good squad but the departures of Fikayo Tomori, Harry Wilson and Mason Mount following the expiry of their loan spells have weakened the team.
While Wilson and Mount impressed in the final third of the pitch, Tomori came off age and was a rock at the back alongside skipper, Richard Keogh. Tomori’s return back to parent club Chelsea will hurt Derby more, considering Lampard already has very fewer options in central defence.
Keogh is edging towards the twilight of his career and so is Curtis Davies, who spent almost the entire campaign on the sidelines due to Achilles injury. The Rams have released Efe Ambrose, who was signed on a short-term deal in the second half of the season but didn’t make a single appearance.
Thus, interest in Damian Oko makes proper sense. Oko is a talented and promising young central defender, who under the guidance of Lampard can only get better in the coming years. The Pole had a solid debut season with Zaglebie Lubin and has the attributes to thrive in the Championship. He is decent on the ball and would really fit into Lampard’s system, bringing balance in central defence.
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Derby will need to strengthen in defence this summer, not least due to the crisis at the back, and Oko’s performances in Poland have shown he could be a good addition. He isn’t experienced and has just completed his debut season in his country, but at £2million, the 22-year-old will be worth the gamble.
If Derby are to challenge for promotion again next season, Lampard needs to make some bargain signings over the summer. And an unknown quantity like Oko is the sort of signing the Rams need to be doing ahead of the 2019/20 campaign.
[Image] Here’s the EFL Championship TOTW for gameweek 7 featuring Middlesbrough and Leeds stars
2019-20 EFL Championship: Team of the Week Round 7
Round 7 of the 2019-20 EFL Championship had everything in store for all sections of the fans to savour and admire, as the players returned to action following the end of the international break.
There was hardly any shortage of twists, turns and talking points in Round 7. Leeds United reclaimed top spot in the standings, Swansea and Charlton Athletic lost their unbeaten status, Stoke City and Huddersfield Town continued their losing habits and West Brom remained the only unbeaten side in the division.
There were some fantastic individual performances too, and with that in mind, here’s the Team of the Week for Round 7 in a 4-3-3 formation.
Championship Team of the Week
Darren Randolph (GK)
The Irish shot-stopper made some crucial saves to propel Middlesbrough to a 1-0 victory over Reading at the Riverside Stadium and he definitely deserves a place in the elite elven.
Scott Malone (LB)
Derby County remained in the bottom half with a 1-1 draw against Cardiff City but the left-back put in a much-improved performance as compared to his previous outings and scored the Rams’ only goal.
Maxime Colin (RB)
Birmingham City broke into the top-ten by ending Charlton’s unbeaten run with a 1-0 victory away from home, and the Frenchman was instrumental in the Blues’ win with his solid display at the back.
Derrick Williams (CB)
The Irish centre-back was one of the standout performers, as Blackburn Rovers got themselves back to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Millwall.
Darragh Lenihan (CB)
One of the architects of Blackburn’s victory at the weekend, the Irish defender is one of the surprise inclusions in this week’s elite eleven.
Kalvin Phillips (CDM)
The central midfielder put up yet another dogged display in the midfield to guide Leeds United to a 2-0 victory over Barnsley, registering an assist with a free-kick for Nketiah’s goal.
Eberechi Eze (RAM)
The Nigerian has really come of age for QPR this term and the attacking midfielder was once again one of the driving forces behind his team’s 3-2 victory over Luton Town, registering a goal and an assist in the process.
Mateusz Klich (LAM)
The Polish international once again proved his worth as one of Marcelo Bielsa’s trusted lieutenants in the middle of the park and secured a 2-0 victory for his team with a well-taken penalty towards the end of the game.
Robert Glatzel (RW)
The towering German centre-forward equalised from the penalty spot for Cardiff City in the Bluebirds’ 1-1 draw against Derby County and finally registered his first goal of the EFL Championship.
Harry Cornick (LW)
Luton lost a five-goal thriller at Loftus Road but Cornick impressed with a goal and an assist in what was a fine individual performance.
Nakhi Wells (ST)
A proven source of goals in the EFL Championship, Wells bagged a brace in QPR’s 3-2 victory over Luton Town to hand Mark Warburton’s side a third consecutive victory in the league.
3 Derby County stars who have to improve massively after the international break
3 Derby County players who need to improve massively after the international break
At the start of the season, Derby County were tipped by many to finally go one step better and make a much-awaited return to the top-flight after the Rams lost out to Aston Villa in the playoff finals the last term.
The fans at Pride Park would have expected their team to carry on from where they left last season but things haven’t really gone according to the script for the Rams ever since Phillip Cocu replaced Frank Lampard at the helm of affairs.
Those who had hoped for a bright start to the season are likely to be bitterly disappointed with the team’s performances in the opening month of the Championship, with Derby County currently languishing 19th in the standings.
Following the 2-1 victory over Huddersfield Town on the opening day of the season, the Rams have failed to register a single win in their next five games, accumulating only three points in the process.
Indeed, that is not the sort of form that will do any good to Derby’s chances of challenging for promotion this season and with that in mind, here are three players who need to rise to the occasion when the action resumes after the international break.
1. Kieran Dowell
Having enjoyed promising loan stints at Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United in the last couple of seasons in the Championship, Derby’s decision to bring in the promising playmaker from Everton looked pretty sensible at the start of the campaign.
The Rams were under pressure to find alternatives to departing loanees Harry Wilson and Mason Mount, and Dowell was apparently identified as a player with a similar skill set to provide that creative spark in the attacking third.
However, if the first six games are anything to go by, Dowell hasn’t done anything to justify the faith that Derby have shown in him, and only a single assist so far isn’t a lot to write home about for the 21-year-old.
It is high time for the promising starlet to start living up to the expectations and with his contract at Goodison Park set to expire next summer, Dowell needs a fruitful loan spell at Pride Park to get his career moving in the right direction.
2. Scott Malone
Malone hasn’t been outrightly poor but one would have expected a lot more from the veteran in the opening month of the Championship.
The 28-year-old was guilty of literally gifting Bristol City a goal in the 2-1 defeat at Pride Park and quite unsurprisingly, his overall performances in both halves of the pitch have come under scrutiny.
In Max Lowe, Derby have a promising youngster in their ranks who is expected to challenge for a regular starting role this term, and if Malone continues his inconsistent form, he might as well find himself down the pecking order under Cocu in the latter stages of the season.
3. Tom Huddlestone
In fairness, Huddlestone has not been one of Derby’s worst performers so far but he hasn’t done anything out of the ordinary to inspire his team to a solid start.
Cocu has relied on Huddlestone’s abilities to keep things ticking at the heart of the midfield and given that he is one of the senior players in the side, the Rams will need him to step up his game in the coming weeks to bring their campaign back on track.
EFL Championship round 6: Winners and Losers of the weekend including high-flying Swansea and struggling Huddersfield
2019-20 EFL Championship: Winners and Losers from Round 6
The top of the table clash between two of Championship’s early-pace-setters, Swansea City and Leeds United at Elland Road was expected to be one of the main attractions of Round 6, and after a tense, hard-fought ninety minutes in West Yorkshire, it was the Swans who had the last laugh.
Leeds controlled the possession for large quarters of the game and the likes of Patrick Bamford, Jack Harrison and Ezgjan Alioski all came close to opening the scoring for the Whites, only to be denied by some tight and resolute defending by Steve Cooper’s side.
Wayne Routledge proved to be the super-sub for the Swans, as the winger’s shot tricked into the goal in the 90th minute to ensure that the Welsh outfit went into the international break on top of the standings, while Marcelo Bielsa’s side only have themselves to blame for failing to make their chances count.
Elsewhere, Charlton Athletic continued their fairytale start to the campaign with yet another impressive 2-0 victory over Reading away from home. Goals from Jonathan Taylor and Lyle Taylor propelled the Addicks to second place in the standings, with Lee Bowyer’s side boasting of 4 wins from their first six games.
Having played out draws against Reading and Derby County in their previous couple of fixtures, West Brom returned to winning ways this weekend as the Baggies edged out Blackburn Rovers 3-2 at home to continue their unbeaten run in the Championship.
Bradley Dack opened the scoring for the visitors inside the first minute of the game before goals from Matt Phillips, Jake Livermore and Grady Diangana made it 3-1 in favour of Slaven Bilic’s side. Bradley Johnson made it 3-2 in first-half injury-time and it stayed that way in the second half.
Meanwhile, Bristol City played host to Middlesbrough on the back of three consecutive victories in the Championship but the Robins could only manage a 2-2 draw, thus heading into the break placed 5th in the standings.
Kasey Palmer opened the scoring for Lee Johnson’s side just at the stroke of the interval before an own goal from Taylor Moore restored parity. Britt Assombalonga’s strike in the 68th minute promised to hand Boro their second win of the season but a goal from Tommy Smith saved the blushes for the hosts.
There wasn’t much joy for the likes of Cardiff City and Fulham though, as both the teams played out a rather stale 1-1 draw in South Wales on Saturday. Josh Murphy’s opener was cancelled out by Aleksandar Mitrovic, who netted his fifth goal of the season.
The Cottagers had the better chances to turn one point into three but Harry Arter’s second bookable offence midway through the second half meant that Scott Parker’s side went into the break with 10 points in their opening six games this term.
Elsewhere, Sheffield Wednesday suffered their second successive league defeat to drop down to 11th in the standings, as Mark Warburton’s QPR upset the Owls 2-1 at Hillsborough on Saturday.
Ashley Fletcher opened the scoring for Lee Bullen’s side from the spot in the first half but Jordan Hugill’s second-half brace fired QPR to back-to-back wins in the league.
Stoke City’s woeful start to the season doesn’t look likely to end anytime soon as the Potters went down 2-1 away at Birmingham City, thus suffering their fifth loss in six games.
Goals from Lukas Jutkiewicz and Jude Bellingham cancelled out Liam Lindsay’s opener to hand the Blues their third win of the campaign.
There was nothing much to talk about in the goalless draw between Wigan Athletic and Barnsley, barring the red card incident featuring Barnsley’s Ben Williams, who received the marching orders from the referee in injury-time.
Huddersfield Town’s 2-1 loss against newcomers Luton Town ensured that the Terriers will be heading into the international break without a single win in their first six games.
James Collins’ goal from the penalty spot cancelled out Karlan Grant’s opener before Andrew Shinnie’s strike handed the Hatters their second victory of the season.
Preston North End played out a 1-1 draw away at Nottingham Forest, while Hull City faced the same fate away at Millwall. Brentford, though, pulled off a surprise with a resounding 3-0 victory over Derby County at home.
Both teams came into the game at Griffin Park with only a solitary win in their opening five games and Bryan Mbuemo’s first goal of the Championship followed by a brace from Ollie Watkins inflicted a heavy defeat on Phillip Cocu’s side, who dropped down to 19th in the standings.
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