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Derby County Opinion: Rams should move for Matthew Pennington

According to The East Anglian Daily Times, Derby County are interested in signing Everton defender Matthew Pennington in the summer, as Frank Lampard sets his sights on making a return to the Premier League.

The same report claims that the Rams were unsuccessful in their attempt to lure the 24-year-old centre-back to Pride Park in January but they are expected to revisit their interest in the Englishman at the end of the season.

Pennington enjoyed a fruitful loan spell at Ipswich Town in the Championship before returning to Goodison Park with a ruptured ligament.

The Englishman made a total of 30 appearances for the Tractor Boys in the league and was arguably their best performer at the back in what has been a forgettable season for them in the second tier, as they look set for relegation back to the League One.

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A product of Everton’s youth system, Pennington earned his Premier League debut in the 2015-16 season but he has failed to nail down a regular first team spot at Goodison Park, making a paltry 9 appearances for the Toffees in all competitions.

He has spent time on loan at third and fourth tier clubs Tranmere Rovers,Walsall and Coventry City, as well as in the Championship at Leeds United and most recently Ipswich.

To put things into perspective, Pennington apparently doesn’t have a future at Everton and settling down permanently elsewhere is likely to work in favour of his long-term development and progress. To be more precise, a move to Pride Park would be a win-win situation for all parties involved.

The report doesn’t throw light on whether Derby are interested in securing his services on a permanent deal in the summer. Given that Pennington is a proven performer at the Championship level and has the potential to make the step up to the Premier League, at least with a mid-table club, Lampard might look at a loan deal with an option to buy at the end of next season.

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Derby haven’t played in the Premier League since 2007-08 and their prolonged absence from the top-flight might come to an end if they manage to finish the season on a high. However, Lampard should continue his pursuit of the out-of-favour Everton star irrespective of where the Rams play their football next season.

Fikayo Tomori has been a regular at the heart of the defence for Derby alongside the experienced Richard Keogh, while Curtis Davies and Craig Forsyth have struggled with injuries.

Davies, 34, and Keogh, 32, are nearing the final phases of their careers and Tomori is expected to return to Chelsea when his loan spell expires at the end of the season.

All of Derby’s centre-backs are above the age of 30, which might prove to be an Achilles Heel in the coming days, whether they secure promotion to the top flight or push for promotion in the Championship next season.

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Suffice to say, it is high time for the Rams to reshape their options at the back with the addition of some young and promising defenders this summer and Matthew Pennington certainly ticks all the boxes.

Strong on the tackle, quick across the ground and dominant in the air, the Everton man has got all the attributes to add solidity and depth to Derby’s defensive options.

The 24-year-old averaged 4.8 aerial duels, 5.8 clearances, 1.7 tackles and 2.7 interceptions for Ipswich in the Championship this season, figures which speak volumes of his well-rounded attributes as a no-nonsense defender. Furthermore, his versatility to play at right-back should make him an invaluable asset at Pride Park.

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That said, Derby should go all out in their pursuit of the former England U19 international in the summer.

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