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Much is expected by Derby County fans during this transfer window and the pressure is all on Gary Rowett to deliver after the owner gave him full autonomy to bring a squad together.
The defensive reshuffle has already gone well with Curtis Davies and Andre Wisdom having arrived. But replacing Will Hughes (Watford) and Tom Ince (Huddersfield) will be crucial over the coming weeks if Derby are to challenge for the Championship title.
Ince was Derby’s top goal scorer last season with 15 and that, along with his ability to find a key pass and create chances for others, will be something they’ll find hard to replace directly. They certainly have the money though, and the £7million rated Matt Phillips of West Bromwich Albion seems to be high up their wish list.
In the star-studded world that the English Premier League is, Phillips rather went under the radar last season in making 27 appearances in the top division. But his stats are not bad at all. Accoring to Squawka, Phillips created 32 chances in his 27 games and that, against the PL defenders.
His shot accuracy of 29% is not bad at all for a wide player, though it must be remembered that his statistics would take a climb by going down to the Championship. His average pass length of 17 metres, bearing in mind that he’s entitled to put crosses in from deep, is short enough, meaning he is happy to play a part in the passing game and that is what Derby are looking for.
Phillips is just 26 years old now and just about reaching his peak. So to do that and take a step down the football ladder at the same time means he may now explode onto the scene. The player may not have an issue going down a level so long as it means playing every week and going for promotion – two things that will not be an issue upon joining the Rams.
Phillips is slightly more versatile than Ince who always preferred to start on the right and be able to cut in onto his left foot. Phillips started 12 games on the left last season for West Brom and 14 on the right, so it’s fair to say he can slot in over on Ince’s side and make an impact from there.
Should Derby let Ince go and spend similar money on his replacement, it would send a major message out to both their fans and the rest of the Championship – Derby County mean business.