January looks set to be an important month for Derby County, who head toward the halfway point in the Championship season in the relegation zone.
A new permanent manager is yet to be appointed and the big-money takeover that was expected weeks ago is yet to be completed but what is clear is that signings are needed and with that in mind, a recent Newcastle United development is good news for the Rams.
The Magpies were knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Championship side Brentford yesterday but the absence of Matty Longstaff from the squad is a promising sign for Derby.
Longstaff burst onto the scene with an impressive debut against Manchester United last season and went on to make 15 appearances in total but has fallen out of favour completely this term.
The 20-year-old has featured just once all season and his exclusion from the squad for yesterday’s quarter-final suggests he is not in Steve Bruce’s plans moving forward.
That’s good news for the Rams as The Daily Mirror (20/09: p72) reported last month that the East Midlands club were eyeing a loan move for Longstaff in January.
The midfielder appears to be someone that is highly-rated by many at St James’ Park, having signed a new deal in August, so a permanent move looks unlikely but sending the academy product out on loan to a club where he is likely to get lots of regular football would make a huge amount of sense for Newcastle.
Derby may be battling relegation but they have a record helping talented young top-flight players take huge steps forward in their development – Mason Mount, Harry Wilson, and Fikayo Tomori to name three – so you’d imagine the North East club would see it as a viable location.
Have any of these 22 players ever been in Derby County’s academy?
For Longstaff, the pull of regular first-team football will surely be huge, and combining that with getting to play under or alongside an England legend such as Wayne Rooney has to make the move even more enticing.
In the opportunities he was given last season, the 20-year-old showed glimpses of what a talented player he is and with Derby needing more quality in their squad, bringing in a player like Longstaff on loan would be a brilliant move.
His exclusion from the squad against Brentford means it looks as though such a move is more likely than ever and that’s great news for the Rams ahead of January.