Derby County have now returned to training as they prepare for the 2021/22 Championship campaign.
One player who was pictured turning up to the training ground was veteran defender Curtis Davies. The 36-year-old, who saw his contract expire at the end of June, has spent four years with the Rams and his immediate future remains up in the air, with extended terms not agreed at Pride Park.
𝓟𝓻𝓮 𝓢𝓮𝓪𝓼𝓸𝓷 2️⃣1️⃣
Enjoyed being back doing what I love after a long time on the sidelines.
— ℂ𝕦𝕣𝕥𝕚𝕤 𝔻𝕒𝕧𝕚𝕖𝕤 #33 (@TheCurtisDavies) July 1, 2021
Looking at Derby’s squad for next year, the lack of central defenders is a glaringly obvious issue. Matt Clarke, who enjoyed another successful season on loan, has now returned to parent club Brighton and Hove Albion, whilst Davies and Andre Wisdom are now both out of contract.
The fact that Davies has returned to training may just be for his own fitness, but the Derby faithful will be hopeful that they can secure his services for one more season at least.
Derby do find themselves in a dangerous situation once again. They have no contracted centre-backs and the closest thing to that is a 36-year-old, who featured just 13 times last season.
However, Davies’ influence would be a massive benefit to the younger players progressing at the club. The lack of first-team players means that an influx of youth team players may see more game time, and who better to guide them than a player who has a wealth of Premier League and Championship experience.
The rebuilding project at Derby needs to focus on putting together a core of experienced Championship professionals before turning their attention elsewhere.
It is no secret that the attacking players that The Rams still possess have the ability to cause any team in the division problems. It is now just a case of balancing that with reliable defensive reinforcements.