Derby County will be hoping to get back to winning ways after the international break, going winless in their last seven Championship fixtures and looking like the firm favourites to finish bottom of the league at this stage.
This is a major shame for a side that actually started their season in a promising fashion, climbing to eighth place in mid-September following their 2-1 home win over promotion candidates Stoke City, but falling to the bottom of the table with their 12-points deduction after entering administration.
With this current run, the international break has probably come at the right time for them, giving manager Wayne Rooney the opportunity to work with his players during this interval as they continue to bravely battle against the drop.
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They face a very tough task when they return to second-tier action though, with Scott Parker’s AFC Bournemouth the visitors to Pride Park after the break.
The Cherries have lost just one of their opening 17 league games of the 2021/22 season – and will be firm favourites in this one with their excellent record on the road.
Focusing more on the Rams though, we have gathered all the latest information you need to know about the second-tier side during this final international interval of 2021.
Rams set for further nine-point deduction
Rooney’s men are set to accept another docking of points according to The Telegraph, with nine the figure being touted at this stage and a further three suspended. This initial punishment would take their total deduction to 21 this term, leaving them with a mountain to climb in their quest to stay afloat in the Championship.
Being docked 12 immediately after their entrance into administration, the second-tier outfit managed to work their way back to a positive points tally and currently have six on the board.
This has left them nine points adrift of safety after Cardiff City’s stoppage-time winner last weekend, a total that could rise to 18 if this punishment is implemented before the end of the international break.
With 29 games left to go, they could mathematically still survive but after failing to win any of their last seven league fixtures, this looks unlikely.
Phil Jones linked
As per The Sun, the East Midlands side are one of 13 clubs currently interested in a move for Manchester United centre-back Phil Jones, whose future at Old Trafford looks bleak after failing to make a single first-team appearance since January 2020.
He has played for United’s U23s in Premier League 2 this term as he looks to maintain his fitness and stay injury-free ahead of a potential transfer, although a loan move is only likely at this stage for Rooney’s side considering their current financial situation.
The 29-year-old could be tempted by this switch, however, having been one of Rooney’s teammates at the Premier League giant. He would be joining a side that may benefit from another option at centre-back, with the likes of Phil Jagielka, Richard Stearman and Curtis Davies unlikely to play a full 46-game season.
Football League World’s Chris Gallagher believes it will be a ‘tough sell’ in convincing the former England international to arrive at Pride Park though, amid interest from the likes of Premier League clubs Watford and Newcastle United.
Mengi loan move considered
In another story involved Manchester United, their defender Teden Mengi could go out on loan during the January transfer window according to the club’s U23s manager Neil Wood, who made this admission to The Athletic’s Laurie Whitwell.
The top-tier club and Derby were said to have verbally agreed a loan move for the 19-year-old back in the summer having seen him spend the second half of last term at Pride Park, but the latter’s transfer embargo seemingly scuppered that move.
It remains to be seen what restrictions the Championship side are under in January with their ownership situation yet to be resolved, but a cheap temporary deal could be in the pipeline considering Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are unlikely to demand a hefty loan fee for his services.
They may also be willing to pay a considering chunk of his wages if he’s shipped out on loan to the East Midlands, on the condition he plays regularly during what could be another valuable experience for the teenager.
Knight hails boss
Midfielder Jason Knight had nothing but praise for his manager as he spoke to the Irish Mirror this week, hailing the 35-year-old for his one-to-one skills and giving him tips to develop into a better player.
He said: “Everyone knows what the gaffer did in his career but he has been great for me personally on a one-to-one basis.
“He gives me little snippets of information that can help me develop my game and he has been great.
“We’re going through a tough period but he has been great for me and my game and hopefully I can keep developing that and keep performing well for Derby and Ireland.”
The 20-year-old even had time to joke about his early-season blow, accidentally being injured by Derby’s boss in training back in July, sustaining a severe ankle knock and with this, missing the opening five games of the 2021/22 campaign.
Knight has recovered well since then though, re-establishing himself as a regular starter and recording three goal contributions in 10 league appearances this term, not a shabby total considering his late introduction to the season.