Derby County continued their unbeaten start to the 2019/20 Championship campaign with a 2-2 draw against Stoke City on Saturday.
The encouraging performance at the bet365 Stadium saw the Rams stay in the top-half of the standings, with Tuesday’s clash with Bristol City giving the club a chance to close in on the likes of Leeds United and Millwall, who currently lead the way in the second-tier.
For forward Martyn Waghorn, the game against Stoke represented a key opportunity to prove his worth to Phillip Cocu after failing to fire in his two previous league appearances.
With Jack Marriott threatening to take his place in the starting eleven, the 29-year-old produced a superb display in-front of goal by firing in a brace which ultimately saved his side from defeat.
Although he may well have guaranteed his place up-front for Derby clash with Bristol City, has he done enough to cement himself as Cocu’s main man for the foreseeable future?
Here, in our latest spotlight article, we take a closer look at his statistics from Saturday to see whether he is the right player to be leading the line for Derby this season.
Having been given the nod by Cocu to start at the weekend, Waghorn played every second for Derby in a clash which lasted 99 minutes at Stoke.
During this game, the forward demonstrated just how clinical he can be in-front of goal as he scored twice from just three shots on target, with the first strike being particularly impressive.
After receiving the ball just inside the Potters’ box, Waghorn dispatched expertly on the turn to give goalkeeper Jack Butland no chance.
Whereas his second goal was more straight-forward due to the fact that it came from the penalty spot, the composure illustrated by the former Ipswich Town man in this particular situation could come in handy for a Derby side who will need to keep their cool this season if they are to push on for automatic promotion.
Despite his goal-scoring exploits, however, Waghorn did show a couple of weaknesses in his game which he will need to iron out in order for him to keep his place in the Rams’ starting eleven.
As well winning just 38% of his duels against Stoke, he ended the game with a passing success rate of just 55%, which is way below par at this level of football.
With Cocu wanting all of his players to be comfortable with the ball at their feet, he will be concerned by Waghorn’s inability to move on the ball when needed and thus it is paramount that the striker works on this facet of his game if he is to remain ahead of Marriott in the pecking order at Pride Park.
Although questions still remain over the Derby ace’s passing ability, his hunger to work hard for his side can be seen by the fact that he was able to make two interceptions on Saturday.
If he can continue to show a willingness to chase down opponents, there is no reason why Waghorn cannot play a pivotal role in leading the Rams to success this year in the Championship.