There can be no denying now, that for all the expectation heading into the campaign, this will be a nervy end to the season for Derby County.
Whatever the reasons – of which there are surely many – the Rams go into their final few matches of the campaign, knowing they must rely on results elsewhere – as well as doing their bit – to ensure they will still be playing Championship football next season.
That is a situation for the Pride Park club, that will not be helped by the recent season-ending injury suffered by on-loan Manchester United centre back Teden Mengi, who has now returned to his parent club for treatment.
Not only does that mean that the Rams are unable to call upon the services of a young player who had been becoming increasingly more reliable at the heart of the Derby defence, but it also leaves them rather short on options in that position for those final weeks of the season.
With veteran Curtis Davies already out for the remainder of the campaign with a long running Achilles injury, that has left them with just Matt Clarke and George Edmundson as natural centre backs for the Rams to turn to. something that not only signals a concern for the rest of this season, but a significant concern for the next one.
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As things stand, both Clarke and Edmundson are currently only on loan from Brighton and Rangers respectively, while Davies, will be 37-years-old by the start of next season, is both approaching the latter stages of his career, and out of contract at Pride Park this summer.
Consequentially, it seems essential that Derby add to their central defensive this options this summer, to ensure that is not a position they are left short on come the start of next season, which will be hugely important to them as they look to either avoid another relegation fight, or bounce back from a drop into League One.
Admittedly, they do have Andre Wisdom and Krystian Bielik they can turn to, but even they may be needed at right-back and central midfield respectively, while both have also had their injury problems in recent times, and Wisdom is another whose contract with the Rams is up in the summer.
With that in mind, it is hard to argue with the suggestion that Derby must recruit in the centre of their defence this summer, and you would like to think that is something they have already started to do.
While it can sometimes be hard for clubs to plan for a summer transfer window when they do not know what division they will be in next season, the current lack of options in that position for the Rams, means that ought not to be an obstacle for Derby at the minute, given they will need to add to that position, whatever league they are in.