Brayford The Bluebird

John Brayford is today expected to complete his move to Premier League new boys Cardiff City after the Rams announced yesterday that they’d accepted a bid from the Welsh club. 

The bid has been reported as £1.3 million but it could reach £2 million with various add-ons. The full-back was in his final year of his Derby contract.

I think it’s quite a good deal for a man entering the final year of their contract. There’s no doubt that a bid of that price wouldn’t have been accepted if there was more time left on his contract. For me, accepting it was a no-brainer – it would have been terrible if he left on a free next year.

I’m very disappointed to see the back of him and, with the Rams’ season opener little over a week away, some fans may feel they’ve been sold short – but it’d have been tough to stand in Brayford’s way when an opportunity to play in the Premier League arose and he absolutely deserves the chance. He’s been no ordinary player for the Rams in his three seasons at Pride Park, the defender has been a shining light in Nigel Clough’s gradual progress and proved to be a quality player.

“He expressed a strong desire to make the move and test himself at the highest level of English football”, Derby County released to supporters yesterday.

Nigel Clough’s been a huge part of the right-back’s career, the manager kick-started Brayford’s career at Burton, developed him into being capable of playing in the Football League when Crewe came calling, then the Rams boss signed him at Pride Park and gave him a chance – which he grabbed with both hands and showed sensational consistency throughout.

Paul Coutts played exceptionally well with Brayford down the right-hand side last season, their linking-up was a joy to watch but Coutts seemed to not produce the same form without the former Burton player – so I wonder where this leaves Coutts, maybe he’ll be used more down the middle of midfield or step it up with a different full-back.

Kieron Freeman is the natural choice to replace Brayford at fright-back from within the club, the former Red is expected to start tomorrow against West Bromwich Albion in a friendly at Pride Park as the Rams begin life without the 2010/11 player of the year.

I believe Freeman’s a very adequate replacement,  while he may not have the same prowess as Brayford going forward, he is excellent defensively. The 21-year-old has shown promising signs when called upon, I wouldn’t be displeased if he was to step up as the replacement. Nevertheless, Derby could still dip into the transfer market. A statement released by the Rams yesterday said “Derby are committed to continuing to strengthen the squad in advance of the 2013/14 season and expect additions to be made in due course”.

Today’s Derby Telegraph said that “Clough could opt to sign a right-back and Derby have two names in mind, I understand”. The Rams were linked with Coventry right-back Cyrus Christie earlier this month.

Not only could Nigel Clough have an eye out for an additional full-back but also a centre-back. Richard Keogh and Jake Buxton are the only fit centre-halves that have a good amount of Championship experience and are in the manager’s plans. I’m perfectly happy with those pair but a loan player would perhaps be good to bolster the options available, plus, while I’m a big fan of Bucko and not just due to his goals against Leeds and Forest, Derby could do better. Centre-backs Shaun Barker and Mark O’Brien remain sidelined.

I really hope the money from the sale of Brayford is reinvested well, Derby could even be better off after it if the cash is invested wisely.

All the best of luck to Brayford, a man that has more than earned a shot at the big time and I’m sure he’ll do well there.

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