Derby County travel to Bramall Lane tonight to face a Sheffield United side who have struggled to adapt to the Championship this season.
Although this evening’s clash comes in the Carabao Cup, both sides will be hoping to use the game as a chance to build confidence to bring into the league.
Rhian Brewster’s 24th minute strike gave the Yorkshire club victory over Carlisle United in the first round of the competition, whilst Derby knocked out Salford City in a match that was ultimately decided by penalties.
Speaking to Derbyshire Live about tonight’s clash with The Blades, and in particular, his thinking behind his team selection, Rooney said: “The issue I have got is the lads on the bench need minutes, they need game time. I need these players to be in a position when I need them to come on or to start games they have enough game-time in them.
“It is a tough one because there will be games when they have to play for the under-23s to get that up, but the cup game is a great opportunity for them,” Rooney added.
“I was delighted with the (cup) draw, I think it is a challenge for the young lads. It is not me disrespecting the cup, it is me purely doing it from a manager’s point of view making sure the players are ready because we have to prioritise the League.”
Rooney has indicated that he would like to name a youthful side tonight, with the learning curve element, vital to his line of thinking.
However, because of the number of injuries within the squad, coupled with The Rams having a thin enough squad as it already is, several experienced first-teasers might be required for the task at hand.
Ryan Allsop should start in goal. It seems that he is the club’s number 2 at the moment, and should edge David Marshall to the starting spot.
With Festy Obesele out injured, Byrne is likely to start at right-back, whilst Richard Stearman, who dropped down to the bench since the arrival of Phil Jagielka, could start against The Blades.
20-year-old Jordan Brown, and 17-year-old Dylan Williams, may also get another chance to impress at first-team level.
As a matter of necessity as opposed to wanting to start him, Ravel Williams could start in a deeper role tonight, whilst Louie Watson could also be deployed from a holding position.
19-year-old Louie Sibley should operate from the right-wing tonight, whilst Kamil Jozwiak may start on the left.
Isaac Hutchinson scored against The Red Devils, and he could be rewarded by starting tonight against the recently relegated Championship club.
Jack Stretton looks like an exciting prospect and is likely to get another opportunity to prove himself against The Blades.