This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict’ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Derby County host Bristol City in the Championship tonight looking to build on the solid start to the season that has seen them unbeaten in the league, with five points from a possible nine, while also progressing to the Carabao Cup second round following a 1-0 win over Scunthorpe.
One player who will be looking to get back into the Rams starting XI is Krystian Bielik who came on from the bench last time out in the league, having started in the Carabao Cup victory.
Bielik, 21, was a summer signing from Arsenal who signed a five-year-deal at Pride Park, having spent last season on-loan at Charlton Athletic.
So should Cocu bring Bielik back into the starting XI to face Bristol City?
“Having been forced to wait for Bielik to recover his fitness following his excursions for Poland in the European Under-21 Championship earlier this summer, it may be time for Cocu to bring him into the side.
“Whereas Derby were not exactly poor during their 2-2 draw with Stoke City last Saturday, the Dutchman will be wanting to see a much more assured defensive display during tonight’s clash with Bristol City.
“Therefore, to have the best chance of securing victory over the Robins, it could worth handing Bielik his debut in the heart of defence.
“However, with Cocu expected to stick by his tried and trusted 4-3-3 formation, it will be intriguing to see whether Richard Keogh or Matt Clarke is forced to make way for the former Arsenal man.”
“Yes, I would like to see him get a chance in central midfield.
“Bielik deserves an opportunity after impressing on debut in the Carabao Cup and in his second-half cameo from the bench on Saturday.
“It will be very interesting where the Dutchman opts to play the 21-year-old and who he leaves out.
“Richard Keogh and Matt Clarke have made a solid start at centre-back and I don’t think there is any need to change that duo.
“So unless he shifts to a back three as he did in the second half against Stoke, it appears Bielik’s chance is likely to come in central midfield.
“The Polish under-21 international proved he is a capable player in central midfield at Charlton Athletic and it would be an interesting test for him up against Bristol City’s new-look midfield two of Josh Brownhill and Adam Nagy.”
“After conceding two goals at the Bet365 Stadium on Saturday, Derby will be looking to rectify their defensive errors.
“Richard Keogh is unlikely to be dropped but Matt Clarke could come out the side to allow Krystian Bielik an opportunity to play a league game at Pride Park.
“Having signed from Arsenal he’ll be used to wanting to keep the ball which is what Cocu’s side will try and do tomorrow night.
“I personally would stick with the two who have been trying to form a partnership, as bringing someone in for a big game like this could cause more problems than it solves.”