Pundit and ex-Nottingham Forest midfielder David Prutton believes relegation battlers Derby County have a ‘slight possibility’ of staying afloat in the Championship this season, speaking on the Sky Sports EFL Podcast.
These comments come after the Rams’ 2-2 draw away at Reading on Monday afternoon, not the best result for Wayne Rooney’s men against a relegation rival on paper but an impressive one considering they found themselves 2-0 down at the Select Car Leasing Stadium as late as the 85th minute.
This astonishing comeback, courtesy of Colin Kazim-Richards and Curtis Davies, came after three consecutive league victories and this has left them just three points behind 23rd-placed side Barnsley despite being deducted a total of 21 points this term.
Quiz: Can you name which club Derby County signed these 20 strikers from?
These points sanctions were due to their entrance into administration back in September, with nine points being added to their initial 12 in November following a historic breach of the EFL’s profitability and sustainability rules.
Not only this, but they were only able to bring five new arrivals in during the previous transfer window, a noticeably low total after seeing some of their permanent first-teamers and five loanees leave the club in the summer.
This is why many had written them off this term – but their bravery against this adversity has paid dividends for them during this winter period and former Forest man Prutton has admitted they may do well enough to remain in the second tier beyond the end of the season despite major off-field disruption.
Speaking about their survival chances, the 40-year-old said: “What they’ve done and the way that they’ve played and the character they’ve seen shown, particularly against the teams they have come up against, has been phenomenal really.”
“It’s weird because it almost feels like when you are written off but that gap is surmountable, sometimes a reverse psychology of that kicks in.
“When it feels like you’re absolutely miles away like they had been, maybe they thought ‘let’s just go for it and see what happens’.
“They don’t play in a way that’s overly cavalier, they play in a way that’s easy on the eye, they defend stoutly, there’s a real sense of togetherness, there’s a good mixture of experience and youth and maybe that’s given them that catapult to send them towards these games in the second half of the season thinking, ‘this may just be on’.
“The odds for it must be staggering, but we’ve seen the odds defied in football before, haven’t we? So maybe, there is a slight possibility (they could stay up).”
As Prutton said, that gap is now surmountable and they could overtake Barnsley very shortly if they can retain their consistency, because they are now scoring enough goals to give themselves a chance of staying afloat.
They may have been disappointed to concede twice away from home, something that was always going to provide Derby with an uphill battle in their quest to win all three points, but their fighting spirit shone through once again.
Not only do they have the experienced heads of Davies and centre-back partner Phil Jagielka, but they also have many young players and they have nothing to lose or fear out there, so that has only played to their advantage.
Consistency will be key to their chances of survival though so they cannot afford to stop now, they must look forward to their next game despite deserving to look back and cherish previous performances and results.
Ruling the Rams out was a big mistake though – and they will now have the likes of the Tykes, Peterborough United, Reading and Cardiff City worried having managed to get to 11 points – a superb achievement and an important milestone.
Now is the time to build on that.