Preston North End boss Alex Neil has been assessing Derby County ahead of the pair’s meeting on Boxing Day, revealing how he feels that getting players back from injury has been key to the Rams turning things around.
Derby endured a really tough start to the Championship season and remain in the division’s bottom three ahead of Christmas.
However, the Rams are unbeaten in six fixtures now and have moved to 16 points, which is level with fourth-bottom Rotherham United.
Quiz: Have any of these 22 players ever been in Derby County’s academy?
So, with Derby looking to clamber out of the relegation zone on Boxing Day, Neil has delivered his verdict on why he feels the Rams have managed to turn things around.
He told Preston’s official media: “I think they lacked that experience and know how at the start of the season because they had a lot of players out. They have got a lot of those players back now and it shows.”
Martyn Waghorn, Tom Lawrence and Krystian Bielik were amongst those missing at the start of the season, whilst Rooney’s contribution has been mixed given he’s now in charge of things on an interim basis following Phillip Cocu’s sacking.
Since moving away from a player-manager role after a 3-0 defeat to Middlesbrough, Rooney has led Derby on this unbeaten run.
Returning players have been a big boost for Derby, particularly when you consider the quality they bring!
Also, you’ve got to note how Rooney’s decision to ditch playing for managing has helped Derby out.
He’s made a bold decision and it’s working.
Whether he gets the job permanently remains to be seen, but he’s done himself no harm.
Thoughts? Let us know!