Phillip Cocu has never fielded the same team for more than three consecutive games this season.
Player injuries, off-field woes and form have all affected his first-team selections since the commencement of the 2019/20 campaign.
There are a couple of positions in particular that must have given Cocu constant dilemmas when it came to picking his starting XI.
He has the likes of Chris Martin, Martyn Waghorn and Jack Marriott challenging for a role as the striker. If and when fit, he has Tom Huddlestone, George Evans, Krystian Bielik, Graeme Shinnie and Duane Holmes to manage in the central-midfield role.
However, he isn’t exactly spoilt for choice in every position. Just behind the midfielders, in central defence, Derby’s options are becoming increasingly thin. Former club captain Richard Keogh has departed with the club and Matt Clarke recently sustained an injury leaving Curtis Davies as the only real out-and-out centre back at the club.
But it is just to the left of that position that Cocu has been most undecided. Throughout the season, he has constantly swapped between Scott Malone and Max Lowe at left back. As soon as one has a poor game, the other comes in until they have a poor game and the process is just recycled.
Cocu, in his latest Championship clash, was forced to favour Lowe after Malone sustained an injury against Middlesbrough. The game just so happened to be the east Midlands derby which Derby lost 1-0.
Perhaps, though, the only highlight of the match was the young left-back’s performance. He was able to keep Joe Lolley quiet all match. The winger has scored three goals and recorded two assists so far this season but was completely snuffed out by the former England Under-20 international.
In a quite impressive statistic, the defender actually made the joint-most amount of interceptions across the entire division (5). He was matched only by Sheffield Wednesday’s Liam Palmer and West Bromwich Albion’s Jake Livermore.
Most interceptions in the Championship this past weekend:
— Second Tier Podcast (@TheSecondTier) November 12, 2019
With the international break allowing time for Malone to fully recover, it is likely that Lowe’s performance will be enough to keep the 28-year-old out of the starting XI for at least one more game.