There is finally a light at the end of the tunnel for Derby County after months upon months of uncertainty.
At one point it looked like Rams fans wouldn’t have a club to support for the 2022-23 season, with no deal seemingly in sight – until Chris Kirchner returned to the fold.
After a brief flirtation with Preston North End, the American businessman returned to the race to take control of County, and after so many months a preferred bidder was finally named.
Kirchner aims to be the new custodian at the club very, very soon and of course it all depends on Pride Park no longer being in the hands of Mel Morris, but Wayne Rooney should soon be able to start planning for the 2022-23 season in League One.
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The majority of Rooney’s current squad are out of contract and when deals are able to be tabled, some will no doubt stay but others will move on.
The England legend will no doubt have his eyes on some fresh faces though going into the summer, and strikers will be on the agenda as for parts of the season, Derby have not had a recognised centre-forward whatsoever.
Considering the stature of the club, Derby should probably be aiming for a proven League One goalscorer and one player who has shown his killer instinct in-front of goal in the third tier this season is George Hirst.
A player who had a big reputation as a youngster at Sheffield Wednesday – and had a big name to live up to as well with his father being three-cap England international David Hirst – Hirst was handed a senior debut for the Owls at the age of 17.
However he would exit the club in 2018 in favour of a switch to OH Leuven of Belgium, having made just two senior appearances for Wednesday, but the switch to continental Europe was a pre-cursor to join Leuven’s sister club – Leicester City – a year later.
It appeared that Hirst may become wasted potential following his loan spell with Rotherham United in the Championship in 2020-21, where he failed to register a goal in 32 appearances, but a step down to League One has worked wonders.
Hirst scored 13 times for Portsmouth in 40 league outings, as well as registering four assists, with the majority of his goal contributions coming in the final few months of the campaign.
With the season now over though, Hirst will head back to Leicester and the expectations are that Portsmouth will go back in for him on a loan deal as he has 12 months remaining on his contract at the Foxes.
But he is a player that Derby should really be looking at to perhaps lead the line for next season.
Proximity wise it makes sense for Hirst if he wants to be closer to home as a Sheffield lad, and who better to learn from than England’s all-time record goalscorer?
Hirst finally started to show signs of his potential this season and now at the age of 23 and with it looking like he is never going to get a chance at his parent club, Derby could take him on loan for a season before making it permanent in the summer of 2023, depending on how well he played.