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Bill's Take: What Do The Rams Need To Succeed?
Friday, 22nd Apr 2016 06:30 by Bill Riordan

Following the Rams’ defeat at Cardiff just over 2 weeks ago on 2nd April, it looked as though the race for play-off spots in the Championship would be a nail-biter.

After thirty-nine matches the Rams were in sixth place, just two points ahead of Cardiff and their playoff hopes looking a little ragged. Since then the Rams have won four in a row compared to Cardiff who have only added points from a couple of draws. Derby are now twelve points ahead of seventh place with only three games to play.

The Rams look certain to finish either fourth or fifth and play Hull in the playoffs; the only question being whether the first play-off match will be at Hull or at Derby.

The other question of course – and its one to which we may never know the answer - is how much influence ‘Football Advisor’ Harry Redknapp has had on the Rams’ fortunes.

Redknapp was appointed in the week leading up to the Forest match in mid-March and the Rams have won five out of six since, with only the Cardiff defeat bringing less than three points. It is a question the Rams will need to ponder over the summer as they decide who will be in charge next season.

As we steam to the end of this campaign, in last week’s article, I looked at some Rams players I thought might be moving on in the summer; this week it is worth considering whether we will see many new arrivals.

I have to make two assumptions here. First, if we are to see many new arrivals then most of the players I identified as surplus need to be moved; new signings cannot be justified unless there are significant outgoings.

Second, the Rams are in the playoffs, and anything could happen; we could be in the Premier League next season. But that would change all calculations, and for the purpose of this article only, I will assume the Rams will be in the Championship next season.

I do not expect to see a new goalkeeper arriving. If Lee Grant were to leave, then I expect either Jonathan Mitchell or Kelle Roos to be backup.

If all of the surplus defenders are moved on, then we would certainly need reinforcements. If all who are expected to leave are shown the door, there would be only five experienced back four players remaining; Cyrus Christie, Richard Keogh, Jason Shackell, Marcus Olsson and Jake Buxton, as well as this seasons long term injury victim Craig Forsyth.

We might expect to see players like Farrend Rawson and Max Lowe next season but I would still expect to see a couple of arrivals, most likely a centre back and a right back. Both would most likely be less experienced players to be used as back-ups, rather than provide a challenge immediately to Keogh and Shackell.

Even though I expect to see a couple of central midfielders moving on in the summer, I do not expect to see any arrivals; we have both numbers and talent in that area but I do expect to see a new winger. At the moment, we have Tom Ince and Johnny Russell both playing well; we also have Abdoul Camara, whose future looks a bit uncertain.

We can definitely use help in that area: somebody who can make an immediate impact, which has not been the case with Camara. Perhaps with a full pre-season under his belt he will become that player but only time will tell.

The Rams are also going to need to recruit some help up front with Chris Martin being the only striker to make any impact at all this season. It seems likely that the Rams will try to go into next season without Bent or Blackman, so we will need at least one more striker.

So I see us signing a central defender, a right back, a winger and a striker; probably none of them big names. That does not make for an extremely busy summer for incoming transfers but as I indicated last week, there may well be a lot of players going in the other direction.

One way and another, I think there will be quite a bit to keep us interested between now and August.

Photo: Action Images

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