Derby County midfielder Jason Knight has praised manager Wayne Rooney’s one-to-one skills in helping him to develop as a player, speaking about the Manchester United legend to the Irish Mirror.
The 20-year-old, who was handed the captain’s armband by Rooney in the early stages of the 35-year-old’s tenure, spent the early stages of the 2021/22 campaign out with an ankle injury after suffering this severe blow in training back in July.
It was revealed shortly after the incident that it was the Rams’ boss himself who accidentally caused the injury, deepening what was already a major crisis at Pride Park with a severe lack of squad depth in the squad due to their transfer embargo.
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Thankfully for the East Midlands outfit, he returned to action ahead of schedule after seemingly being ruled out for three months, returning in early September and re-establishing himself as a key figure in midfield.
With a depleted squad, even after making five summer signings, he’s likely to continue being one of the first names on the teamsheet at Pride Park and will be encouraged by the fact he has already beaten his Championship goal contributions tally from last season, recording three in just 10 league games during 2021/22.
Making 43 second-tier appearances last term, this is an impressive achievement for the 20-year-old, but the Republic of Ireland international has heaped praise onto his boss as he continues his development as a young player.
Speaking about Rooney to the Irish Mirror, he said: “He does a lot of work.
“There are not many better people to teach you on that. It’s just confidence – you get one goal, you might get two or three the next week.
“It’s about trying to put that run of scoring goals and getting assists in consecutive games and being consistent.
“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.”
Although credit has to go for both, especially Rooney for managing the club at such a difficult period in their history and producing reasonable results on the pitch, Knight also deserves a special mention.
Not only has he bounced back well from his injury, but he also showed plenty of understanding and even had time to joke about it, showing he’s the type of character needed in the Rams’ current situation.
His response to this setback could only have been a plus for his side in the early stages of the seasons – and although results haven’t been as promising recently – they still have plenty of time to fight for their survival if they can minimise any further points deduction punishment.
The central midfielder also encapsulates the exciting and youthful nature of this squad. If they can stay up, the likes of Knight, Lee Buchanan, Louie Sibley and Max Bird will all be more likely to extend their stay in the East Midlands.
This could provide them with a more promising future – but a takeover does need to be sorted before they can focus on the long term with the club still in administration at this stage.