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RamsWeek 41 - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
RamsWeek 41 - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Monday, 11th Oct 2010 01:16 by Paul Mortimer

Derby County manager Nigel Clough concentrated on his squad fitness programme and preparation for the next League game, during the latest international break.

Whilst Clough was still seeking squad reinforcements, he was also expecting some reduction of the injury count during the fortnight’s break.

With a reserve game at Rotherham next week, the manager anticipated the return to action of defenders Gareth Roberts and Russell Anderson, who are expected to participate in a league fixture on Tuesday with Rotherham United reserves.

There’s also the added possibility of Dean Leacock taking part in a reserve cup fixture at Rotherham United later this month. Be careful with that hamstring, Deano.

Defenders might be available in greater number for the manager soon as injuries clear up, but he must also make provision for the loss of attacking strength when current loan players have to return to their parent clubs.

Centre forward Shefki Kuqi, making an impact temporarily in the gap in the attack left by Rob Hulse’s departure, has to go back to Swansea in mid-December. West Brom youngster Luke Moore returns to the Hawthorns in the last week of October and Sunderland rookie Ryan Noble’s loan runs out before the ends of this month.

Manager Clough wants to commence a further loan with Kuqi when January comes around - but unless the Rams’ boss makes headway in the loan market soon, his striking option will be badly restricted. No-one wants a barren Christmas sequence like we had in 2009, especially with a visit to the Trees during that period.

Ex Rams and Derbyshire Cricket Club player Ian Buxton passed away this week, aged 72. Many sympathies at his passing go to Ian’s family and friends, and RIP to him from all at RamZone.

He was a wholehearted forward and led the line in the first Rams team I watched, in Tim Ward’s mid-Sixties side. He made 147 appearances for Derby County and notched up 43 goals. The signing of John O’Hare when Brian Clough arrived at the Baseball Ground spelled the end of Buxton’s career with the Rams and he moved to Luton Town.

Ian was a very accomplished cricketer too, who captained his side, scored almost 12,000 runs and took 483 wickets. He represented one of the last of the ‘old school’ of versatile players who made significant contributions to both his town’s football team and county cricket side.

Imagine Wayne Rooney starring for Manchester United regularly and also keeping up a high batting average for Lancashire! It all barely seems credible to youngsters today, I’d reckon - but it was quite commonplace up to a few decades ago.

News from Pride Park Stadium was at a premium, though the Rams were preparing to host the Brazil vs. Ukraine international friendly on Monday.

The Salsa boys had a sudden collapse in this summer’s World Cup Finals to be toppled from their favourite’s rating but still retain their status as a big draw and it will be a prestigious occasion for Derby’s stadium.

Prior to this elsewhere, the European Championship campaign brought a touch of the good, the bad and the ugly to the internationals involving our home countries.

England seemed to suffer regular bad news - with more injury drop-outs than even Derby County usually report - as the Three Lions prepared for their clash with Montenegro at Wembley. (Well, I thought the Hugo Montenegro soundtrack title was neat enough!)

Boss Fabio Capello will be keen to sustain England’s good start to their campaign, although it will only be when an England team progress beyond the group stages of  a finals competition and show good form that they can reclaim some credibility after their world Cup debacle.

One player looking forward to the England game is striker Kevin Davies, selected for his first cap at 30 years of age. At first, he couldn’t believe his good news of a full international call-up. The Bolton striker represents the ‘ugly’ side of the game to some pundits, as he is inclined to put himself about a bit.

He does score goals too and has more ability than he’s often given credit for. He is a strong player and is a handful to opposing defences. As a physical presence to play with Rooney or other choices, he represents a replacement for the bustling but goal-shy Emile Heskey, who has now retired from international football.

There was bad news though for Paul Green, who gained another Republic of Ireland cap but couldn’t halt Russia’s march to a win over his country in Dublin. Despite a spirited fightback, the R o I lost 3-2.

Rams’ Academy lads Mark O’Brien and Jeff Hendrick have also been on duty for the R o I’s Under-19 squad for their Euro Championship first phase qualifiers.

Wales, for whom Derby skipper Robbie Savage still covets a starring role, suffered a 0-1 defeat to Montenegro before last Friday’s home defeat to Bulgaria. They look set to flunk qualification to the finals yet again.

Youth coach Bryan Flynn hopes to hold onto the national management role he is covering temporarily but poor results will not help his cause, and he now faces a must-win game with Switzerland.

Scotland had fared better so far and are still in the running for qualification but they suffered a setback with a 1-0 defeat by the Czech Republic. It had been a rearguard action with coach Crag Levein setting up his team to hold out and deny the Czechs. His plan failed and the Scots face favourites Spain in their next group match.

There will be more ups and downs in the qualifying games during the week - and then we will be back to League fayre with the hope that Derby County can sustain their recent Championship momentum.

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RamsWeek 41 in 2009 saw an international break as World Cup qualifying campaigns reached their latter stages.

For the first time, terrestrial TV viewers in England were denied the chance to see their national team live, as the convoluted TV rights displaced a mass audience and put media revenues before the public interest.

The England vs. Ukraine game went out on an internet-only pay service (with a restricted cinema-chain showing; the game was poorly subscribed yet was of course  declared a success and the way forward by those with vested interests. Supporter groups protested and asked fans to consider: ‘Is this what you want?’

Derby County had a 4-1 friendly win at Ilkeston Town as manager Nigel Clough kept the fit members of his squad on their toes. With the squad in a deep injury crisis, physio Nigel Ashley-Jones departed from his Moor Farm role to ‘pursue other interests’.

Perhaps he has found something interesting to do, like his ex-boss Paul Jewell. What IS Jewell doing nowadays, anyway? Who cares?

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