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Derby signing this 25-year-old League One ace would add some much-needed defensive depth

Jordan Willis of Coventry gestures during the Sky Bet League One match between Burton Albion and Coventry City at Pirelli Stadium on November 17, 2018. (Getty Images)
Jordan Willis of Coventry gestures during the Sky Bet League One match between Burton Albion and Coventry City at Pirelli Stadium on November 17, 2018. (Getty Images)

Why Derby County should make a move for Sunderland’s Jordan Willis

Back in May 2019, Coventry Live had claimed that Derby County were one of the clubs interested in signing Jordan Willis on a free transfer from Coventry City. However, no deal materialised and the defender ended up joining Sunderland.

Jordan Willis, 25, came up through the Coventry academy, making his senior debut in a 4-2 defeat to Southampton in the Championship in November 2011. He made 208 appearances for the Sky Blues, scoring eight goals in that time. The defender led the sides which won the Football League Trophy and the League Two play-offs, scoring in the 3-1 final win over Exeter City.

 Jordan Willis of Coventry looks on during the Sky Bet League One match between Burton Albion and Coventry City at Pirelli Stadium on November 17, 2018. (Getty Images)
Jordan Willis of Coventry looks on during the Sky Bet League One match between Burton Albion and Coventry City at Pirelli Stadium on November 17, 2018. (Getty Images)

At Sunderland, Willis has made 35 appearances in the Football League One, registering two goals and an assist. The Black Cats started the New Year in fantastic fashion but have lost their way a bit in recent weeks, winning just once in their last five games. Although they are seventh in the table, they have the second-best defensive record in the division and Willis has been a crucial part of the backline.

With Willis impressing at Sunderland, Derby County should revive their interest in him during the summer transfer window.

Currently 12th in the Championship standings, the Rams will be aiming to launch a late push for the play-off places when the campaign eventually resumes. Phillip Cocu was appointed to replace Frank Lampard at Pride Park and the Dutch tactician has had to rebuild the Derby side after their play-off final defeat to Aston Villa last season.

Derby County players celebrate. (Getty Images)
Derby County players celebrate. (Getty Images)

After six months of inconsistent performances under Cocu, things have changed for good since the turn of the year. Whether it be Premier League or Championship football next season at Pride Park, Cocu has a number of issues in his squad that need to be addressed during the summer window.

One of the issues is the defence, with the Rams leaking 49 goals in 37 games. They have struggled at the back following Richard Keogh’s sacking back in September. Curtis Davies hasn’t been at his best this season and turned 35 earlier this month. Matthew Clarke arrived on loan from Brighton before the start of the season but has struggled with injury problems.

Krystian Bielik joined the Rams last summer from Arsenal but he has been forced to watch on from the sidelines since suffering a serious knee injury during an appearance for the club’s Under-23s in January. He is set to miss the remainder of the 2019/20 campaign as a result of this issue.

Phillip Cocu, Manager of Derby County looks on during the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Derby County and Manchester United at Pride Park on March 05, 2020 in Derby, England. (Getty Images)
Phillip Cocu, Manager of Derby County looks on during the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Derby County and Manchester United at Pride Park on March 05, 2020 in Derby, England. (Getty Images)

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Indeed, defensive reinforcements are a must for Derby and signing Jordan Willis from Sunderland would be sensible. The defender has proven his worth in the lower tiers of English football and is at the right age to make the step up to Championship football. He would certainly add quality to Derby’s defensive ranks as well as depth to the squad.

Verdict

Willis has a bagful of League One experience under his belt and a move to Derby in the summer would help him to carve out an identity in the years to come.

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