Regular centre-back Jake Buxton was sent-off at Peterborough last week, meaning he’ll miss Saturday’s game against Blackpool.
The Tangerines are just one point and one position above the Rams in the nPower Championship table. The likes of Thomas Ince, Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Kevin Phillips will make it no easy game for the Derby defence. With former-Burton defender Buxton out the Rams are left with the options of James O’Connor, Valentin Gjokaj and Mark O’Brien, who are seemingly the most likely to play based on who has made matchday 16s so far this season. Cast your vote in the poll below.
The former-Doncaster defender has already enjoyed a run in the side at the expense of Jake Buxton. O’Connor is actually a right-back but puts his hand to the ‘utility role’, playing anywhere across defence. He’s played a few games at left-back but never, in a Rams shirt, has he played at right back. He has been at fault to most of Derby’s conceded goals this season, when he’s been on the pitch, as Derby County Blog wrote a couple of weeks ago.
The Swiss youngster initially joined the club on trial at the beginning of pre-season and impressed Nigel Clough in some of the club’s friendlies, signing a contract with the club. Gjokaj has only made a couple of substitute appearances for the first team, however he’s played a key role in the early success of the new under-21 side. The under-21 side are unbeaten this season but is he ready to make the step up to start a first-team game?
The young Irishman finally made his long awaited return to action on Saturday at London Road, coming on as a substitute. Last year he picked up a devastating injury that has halted his progress, keeping him on the sidelines for 10 months. Just recently he’s been eased back into action through the under-21 side. Last season O’Brien really made his mark on the first team playing 20 times and helping the Rams to a good start to the campaign. The question is, is he ready to return?