Speaking exclusively to Football League World, Carlton Palmer has suggested that Derby manager Wayne Rooney could return to a playing role to try and keep his side up in the final two games of the season.
The Manchester United and England legend announced his retirement from playing when he was appointed as Derby’s permanent manager back in January.
However, the Rams now find themselves in trouble at the wrong end of the Championship table, sitting one place and four points clear of the relegation zone – having played a game more than 22nd placed Rotherham – after winning just one of their last 13 games.
Now Palmer believes that that could prompt Rooney to potentially make a return to the pitch, as he looks for ways to get his side over the line in the battle to stay in the Championship.
Giving his assessment of Derby’s position in the fight for survival, Palmer told Football League World: “You never know sometimes in this situation luck plays a big part. If Derby were to go and win away at Swansea, you’d still see that as being very unlikely.
“The only thing I think is: Is Wayne Rooney fit? If Wayne Rooney’s still been training and is fit, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play against Swansea or Sheffield Wednesday, now that could be the difference if he’s fit.”
Indeed, it seems Palmer believes a return to action for Rooney could yet be crucial for Derby, with the former England international adding: “When he was playing before, he had a big impact on the side when they were losing games before and he came back from injury.
“You’ve got to remember that he’s a talented footballer, he could still be playing. So if he’s fit it might be one of those. Now if he plays, then it could all change.”
Having joined Derby from LA Galaxy back in January 2020, Rooney had scored seven goals in 35 appearances in all competitions for the Rams before taking the step into management.