Derby have a midfield that should be the envy of the Championship

With players fully on their way back to returning from injuries, Derby County have a deluge of options in the midfield department. The surfeit of options available make for a selection dilemma in central midfield!

I thought Nigel Clough was blessed with a lot of options at one stage with Jeff Hendrick, Craig Bryson and Will Hughes but this is phenomenally good. Combining the trio I just mentioned proved difficult for Clough; one had to be pushed out to the wing regularly. Maybe the three just don’t quite match altogether. However, what’s clear is that they’re among the Rams’ star assets, yet they’ll find it tough to get on the team sheet.

Kalifia Cisse

I’m sure I can be forgiven for thinking the ex-Reading man would be a big, clumsy figure. His first game against Sheffield Wednesday showed he was a delicate operator in midfield, stringing tidy passes together and calmly tackling.

Wednesday rarely got passed Cisse, who was on hand to slow down any attacks from the away side.

Having signed on a two-month deal earlier this month, he’ll only add to the competition.

John Eustace

I have been full of praise for Eustace on this blog. Playing a similar role to Cisse, the ex-Hornets skipper allows the rest of the midfield to aid the attacks and acts as a shield for the defence. He was instrumental in the draw against Ipswich Town and victories over Leeds United and Watford.

Aged 34, the central midfielder can’t quite play the box-to-box role of Craig Bryson but he does compensate with his intelligence in reading the game.

James Bailey

Clough ostracized Bailey from the first-team and sent him out to Coventry City on loan, where he did receive plaudits. The Sky Blues couldn’t sign him and no other club saw him viable in the summer, resulting in him remaining at Pride Park the iPro Stadium.

Since McClaren’s arrival, he has given each player a clean slate. Returning from injury, this former Derby young player of the year will be a benefactor of that. He was sensational in his early days and was a profit of an intriguing new formation alongside Robbie Savage. I, for one, am looking forward to watching him again.

Will Hughes

What more can I say that hasn’t been said? Further speculation persists, but Hughes just gets on with the job in hand with the Rams. The slick technical midfielder continues to mature. Hands off, for now, Liverpool and co.

Yesterday the 18-year-old hit a superb goal for the England Under-21s, somehow emerging from a jammed central area to hit home. Watch below.

Craig Bryson

Derby’s midfield are at ease with this man’s presence. For me, the Scotsman has been the club’s player of the year thus far.

Of the midfield line, he most provides the potency in the opponent’s box. Finally, he earned a start for Scotland last night too, so congratulations to him for that.

As a pacey central midfielder, that freedom means he can be a thorn and a pest for oppositions looking to run the midfield through quick and developing passes.

Bryson was my player of the month on for October.

Jeff Hendrick

Last seen hobbling off the pitch at Yeovil, Hendrick has worked his way back from a troubling ankle problem.

The Irishman is a cogent character in the middle of the park, complementing the more slight Will Hughes. Going forward he can be a huge threat. Hopefully this injury doesn’t halt his development too much – the senior international is another of Derby’s key valuables.

Now, over to you, Steve! Who complements whom the most? And, finally, Rams fans, have a go at picking your midfield from these players? Don’t forget, these are just the centre-midfielders!

Twitter @NathansRamsBlog

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