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.
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