Derby County Star Compared To 25-Goal Striker

Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of a trip to Exeter City on Tuesday night, Derby County head coach Paul Warne paid a huge compliment to one of his injured stars.

The Rams have suffered a blip in form in recent weeks, winning just two of their previous five league outings, allowing leaders Portsmouth to open the gap at the top of the table to six points, although Warne’s men still have a game in hand.

On Saturday, Derby faced Shrewsbury Town at Pride Park in what looked like a straightforward victory for the side on paper. However, despite taking the lead early in the first half through Max Bird, the Shrews equalised with merely three minutes of normal time left on the clock to share the spoils.

Derby County will be keen to get back on track to ensure that Pompey don’t move too far ahead in the race for the League One title but have some difficult fixtures on the near horizon against an in-form Exeter, as well as promotion-hopefuls Stevenage and Barnsley.

There are still some major injury concerns within the squad, with Conor Washington, Martyn Waghorn and Tyreece John-Jules all sidelined. John-Jules had only just returned to action when he pulled his hamstring, leaving Warne’s attacking options very limited up top.

In his pre-match presser, the former Rotherham United boss was asked about the Arsenal loanee’s well-being and described his absence as similar to that of David McGoldrick’s departure to Notts County last summer [quotes via Derbyshire Live]:

“I have communicated with him a couple of times and I am actually due to phone him to see how he is.

“I have been reaching out to him and he seems okay. The first few days are the worst and then you get your head around it as a footballer,” he continued.

“He’s sorely missed really because when we lost Didzy [McGoldrick] last year, we lost that little bit of magic in the team that could create something out of nothing and JJ was the best answer to Didzy.

“I’m not saying he was Didzy, by the way, but he had a similar skill set in that he was difficult to mark and was confident to have the ball in tight areas. It’s sad for the group that he has gone.”

McGoldrick was the Rams’ top scorer last season as he bagged 25 goals in 45 games in all competitions before leaving for League Two. However, since moving to the fourth tier, the former Republic of Ireland international has found the net 12 times and recorded six assists in 28 matches for the Magpies.

Writer’s View

Derby County have struggled for form in recent weeks but a major factor behind these inconsistent results is the side’s injury problems, including the loss of John-Jules who was playing well under Warne after returning from a long-term injury.

While the 22-year-old wasn’t setting the world alight, scoring only one goal this term, he’s the type of striker that Warne loves, one that can hold the ball up and bring teammates into the game like McGoldrick used to do, as well as Michael Smith at Rotherham. It’s easy to see why both Warne and the player himself were devastated by this latest injury blow.

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