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Having added Premier League players Andre Wisdom, Curtis Davies and Tom Huddlestone to their ranks early, it looked like being an excellent transfer window for Gary Rowett and Derby County.
Weeks went by without more additions and with the sale of Tom Ince to consider as well, it looked like being ultimately a frustrating summer for the Rams.
Given Gary Rowett’s penchant for a 4-2-3-1 formation, Derby needed to find wider attacking options and fast. Step forward Ipswich Town’s Tom Lawrence. The Welsh forward is definitely on the up and is a man in demand. He has now joined Derby County for a £5m fee, which could rise up to £7m. Back in January though, both Leeds and Sunderland wanted his services and with the Wearside team now joining Leeds in the Championship, they would represent a big rival both on and off the pitch from now on.
Lawrence, although he can play on the right if needed, is comfortable in the centre, or on the left-hand side of the attacking line-up, and would fit straight into Derby’s set-up. His better performances tend to come when starting on the left though and this is an area where Derby need reinforcements immediately.
The man from Wrexham managed 9 goals and 11 assists from 34 Championship appearances last season, contributing to a goal once in every 140 minutes, which, for a player playing in the lower reaches of the league, is an excellent record. His pass completion rate of over 70% is fine but it will get better when playing for a slicker side.
Given the sort of contribution Lawrence makes (and he can still get better yet), it would become vital that Derby find a top centre-forward eventually. With a better supply line and more support, current striker David Nugent may still manage a decent season in front of goal.
Lawrence, for my money at least, is a Premier League player and just needs one more good season to polish his skills. Although it seems like an obvious tactic, I do love the simplicity of Gary Rowett’s transfer policy over the summer, finding players who are frankly better than this league.
Curtis Davies, Andre Wisdom and Tom Huddlestone could all have held their own once again in the Premier League this season and Lawrence is another. Derby’s quality, despite the loss of Tom Ince, is now right where it needs to be and this has put the right sort of pressure on the manager, a situation he has created and must be admired for – as long as they gain promotion that is.