Derby County are going to be under pressure next season to show that they have made progress over the summer from a very challenging end to last term.
Over the last few seasons, the Rams have managed to get a number of their talented young players through their academy and into their first team and they have helped to play a major role in the side.
That has seen the likes of Jayden Bogle, since sold on to Sheffield United, Louie Sibley, Louie Watson, Lee Buchanan, Jason Knight and Max Bird all come through and have an impact for the Rams.
Given the current uncertainty that the Rams are going through off the field, it might be difficult for them to make as many changes to the squad as they might be needing to this summer.
That means that Rooney might be ever more reliant on getting some of Derby’s younger players through into the first team.
Fortunately for the Rams they do have one or two younger players that could well be ready to breakthrough into the side and make a major impact for them next term.
With that in mind, we take a look at TWO of the Rams’ most talented youngsters that could get into their side next season…
A Derby young player that we could see breakthrough into their starting line-up next season is Bobby Duncan. The Rams singed him last term following his exit from Italian side Fiorentina and he looks like a player that has a lot of quality and if he is managed properly on and off the field he might well prove to be an excellent pick up for Derby over the next few years.
Duncan has yet to feature for Derby’s first team since he arrived at the club, but the former Liverpool youngster has been showing glimpses of his talent for the Rams’ under-23s.
The 19-year-old might be able to be something of a wildcard for Rooney to call upon next season and he would certainly be someone that could excite supporters if he can play to his potential.
Next season is a massive one in the career of Duncan after he has already endured upheaval in his young career to date surrounding his exit from Liverpool.
The move to Italy did not prove to be the breakthrough he needed in terms of getting first-team football, but he will have developed and learned a lot in the last few years. Next term could well show how much he has improved in that time.
Quiz: Did each of these 20 midfielders ever score a goal for Derby County?
One of Derby’s biggest issues last season was their inability to score goals in the final third and they managed to register just 36 goals in their 46 Championship matches.
The Rams ideally need to add to their attacking options but finances could make that challenging for Rooney to be able to do. While Martyn Waghorn’s future also remains uncertain and if he leaves it would be even more of a problem.
However, Rooney might have one young player in their squad in the shape of Jack Stretton that might be ready to make a major breakthrough next season to help ease their scoring issues.
The 19-year-old was handed four appearances by the Rams in the league last term but he only averaged ten minutes per appearances off the bench.
Stretton is someone that has a lot of potential and he could get the chance to earn more regular game time next season. The Rams should not be relying on a player of his age to lead the line for them and be their main scorer, but learning from Rooney and also an experienced player like Colin Kazim-Richards might help him make an impact for them next season.