Derby County midfielder Jason Knight could miss the first 12 weeks of the Championship season after coming off worse in a 50/50 training ground tackle with manager Wayne Rooney, reports John Percy of The Telegraph.
The Irishman and Rooney went in for a challenge that left Knight with an ankle injury that adds to the growing list of problems at Derby. Rooney was taking part in the session to make up for the lack of players the club currently have, despite their season getting underway in less than two weeks.
Jason Knight Injury Adds to Growing List of Problems at Derby
Injury Leaves Rooney With Further Selection Problems
Derby’s season kicks off on August 7th with a home game against Huddersfield Town. With less than two weeks to go until then, the club currently only have nine registered senior players, with two of those being goalkeepers.
Throughout pre-season, they have made up the numbers with free agents, some of whom saw their contract at Derby expire at the end of last season. Defenders Phil Jagielka, Richard Stearman, Curtis Davies and Andre Wisdom have all featured with midfielders Tom Carroll and Ravel Morrison as well as strikers Sone Aluko and Sam Baldock.
However, with the club operating under a strict embargo that limits how many new players can be signed and the terms of the deals that can be offered, Rooney is facing a selection crisis ahead of the start of the season.
Knight’s injury will only add to that problem, as it now means that the club will either have to source another free agent from somewhere or bring in a player from the youth academy.
Rooney to Fight On
Despite the major issues facing Derby, Rooney insists that he will not walk away from the club. However, he has demanded that new signings be made, otherwise, he is unsure of how he can field a team come the start of the season.
Derby’s makeshift squad lost 2-1 in a friendly against Salford City at the weekend, who are their second opponents of the season when they meet in the Carabao Cup.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the defeat, Rooney said: “It’s other people that I can’t control who need to make bigger decisions than I do. It’s my job to bring some dignity, some pride back to this club. It’s clear over the last few years that has gone a little bit and it’s my job to bring that back. I need other people to do their job.
“It’s been very difficult in terms of not knowing what my squad will be in two weeks’ time when the league starts. We need to, however we can, get that sorted. If I’m being honest, it would be easy for a manager in this situation to walk away. It’s a challenge for me. I’m a fighter. I’m grateful to Derby for giving me this opportunity and I’ll do everything I can to make sure we get through this.
“If we can’t bring any players in in the next two weeks then I don’t know how we’re going to field a team to start the first game of the season. I’ve got one centre-back signed at the club, there’s two very young centre-backs in the U23s and U18s. It would be impossible for me to field a team.”
The EFL restrictions Derby are currently under mean that they can only sign free agents on one-year contracts and loan players on six-month deals, all on limited wages.
This was relaxed to allow the club to sign players of a ‘professional standing’, which the EFL define as someone who has played at least one match in the league, the EFL Cup or the FA Cup.
Derby currently have 19, meaning they would be allowed to sign four more until they reach their cap of 23.