Derby County manager Wayne Rooney has paid tribute to Patrick Roberts and Louie Watson for their performances during his side’s 1-0 defeat at home to Millwall on Saturday afternoon.
With both players having been named on the bench for the game, both were introduced 60 minutes into the game, replacing George Edmundson and Jason Knight as Derby went in search of an equaliser, after Shaun Hutchinson had put the visitors in front on the stroke of half time.
Ultimately, no leveller would come for the Rams, but it seems as though Rooney was pleased with what he saw from Manchester City loanee Roberts and 19-year-old Watson during their time on the pitch.
Speaking about the pair after the game, Rooney was quoted by the Derby Telegraph as saying: “That’s why I brought Louie Watson and Patrick Roberts on quite early in the second half because I felt with their creativity we could try and create a few more chances. I thought they were both excellent when they came on again.”
Assessing what set the pair apart from their teammates on Saturday, Rooney went on to add: “I think the difference is they are prepared to take risks, they are prepared to give the ball away in order to create chances. I was pleased with the two of them when they came on.”
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Having cut short a loan deal with Middlesbrough to join Derby on a temporary basis back in the January transfer window, Roberts has since gone on to make six appearances for the club, starting twice.
Watson meanwhile has yet to start a first-team game for Derby this season, although the midfielder has come off the bench five times in the league for the Rams since the start of the campaign.
This ought to be an encouraging sign for both Roberts and Watson.
Neither player has got a huge amount of playing time for Derby so far this season, something you feel they will be keen to change.
That is something that it now seems could happen, given it seems as though Rooney is happier with the pair than the majority of his other players after that defeat.
As a result, you would imagine both are in a position to compete for a starting spot against Brentford on Tuesday, given Rooney needs to find a change that works quickly to ensure Derby do not get dragged back into the relegation zone this season.