Derby County manager Wayne Rooney has insisted that Louie Watson is once again firmly amongst his thoughts for a potential starting place and that he is very close to being picked against Brentford on Tuesday.
Watson was once brought on from the bench during the Rams’ 1-0 defeat at home to Millwall on Saturday, with Rooney turning to the 19-year-old to try and help get Derby back into the game in the final half an hour. During the closing 30 minutes against the Lions, the midfielder managed to have 26 touches and maintained a passing accuracy of 88% (Sofascore).
That was the 19-year-old’s fifth appearance from the bench for the Rams in the Championship and Rooney admitted ahead of Derby’s trip to Barnsley last week that the midfielder was close to starting in that fixture. Having elected to field more experienced players for the trip to the Tykes and against Millwall, he could now turn to Watson as he looks end a four-game streak without a win.
Speaking to Derbyshire Live, Rooney once again insisted that he has no doubts that Watson has the quality to make a difference for the Rams. While he also suggested that he is now pushing ever closer to coming into the starting line-up for the game against Brentford.
He said: “He is very close. I have no problems in starting him in games.
“He is a young lad, he has not been with the first team for that long, so it is important I manage him right in this period, but I am delighted he is with us.
“He is a player who excites me, a player who has great character. He is a talker, and he is going to be an important player for us certainly for next season but also in the 10 games coming up.
“He is a player I can use, whether that is from the start or coming on.”
You get the sense that Rooney is almost itching to give Watson the chance to show what he can do from the start now. The Rams saw what throwing a confident and talented player into the side from the youth team setup can do last term when Louie Sibley burst on to the scene with five goals and two assists in just 11 Championship appearances (Sofascore).
Watson would be able to bring a fearless and confident edge to the side and his ability on the ball might help them control games better in the middle of the park. That could be vital for Rooney’s side who have seen their performance levels drop off in recent weeks and they are missing the presence of Krystian Bielik in the midfield.
The 19-year-old will feel that he is ready to come into the side and with the words of encouragement Rooney has offered him in recent weeks he would be full of belief. Having not scored in or won any of their last four there is not much really to lose for Derby against Brentford in a game many will expect them to be beaten in.