Derby County skipper Richard Keogh can shepherd young defenders through crisis, says manager Nigel Clough
NIGEL Clough will look to skipper Richard Keogh to be the linchpin in Derby County's young back four again tonight.
Clough praised Keogh's display in Saturday's goalless draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers, when the 26-year-old was the "old head" among young defenders.
John Brayford (25) was excellent as Keogh's partner at centre-back and full-backs Kieron Freeman (20) and Michael Hoganson (19) stuck to their tasks.
Clough felt Keogh held a patched-up defence together.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
"I thought he did that superbly and John Brayford as well," said Clough ahead of tonight's Championship game against Bolton Wanderers at Pride Park (kick-off 7.45pm).
"That is where we see the benefit of Richard and in helping the younger players as well."
Derby have made inquiries about possible loan signings since the Wolves game but Clough says he would have no hesitation sending Hoganson out again following his first start at the weekend.
"I think it was a very composed and accomplished debut by Michael," added Clough.
"Your first game is easy in some ways, because of the adrenalin.
"The second game might be harder but I am sure he will cope.
"It is all good experience for him looking ahead to next season or later this season, if we have to put him in again.
"We have made a couple of loan inquiries again and we are waiting to hear back.
"We have got enough injuries and Gareth Roberts' suspension on top has compounded things.
"If we don't get somebody in, then we proved Saturday we can put a side out to compete even with the youngsters in."
Derby have won one and drawn three of their last five League games. They have lost only two of their 16 home League matches.
"We lost too many home games last season but not many teams come to Pride Park and have the lion's share of possession against us, or win," said Clough.
"I think the draws have shown that we are at the stage where we can get these points – and valuable points as well.
"This time last year, we were losing games and so just nicking the odd point here and there helps. It certainly helps confidence when you are not losing.
"I think it is the mark of a little bit of progress. The next stage is to turn those draws into wins.
"Come the end of the season, it might be a case of identifying where we need those extra points to get us in that top six."
February has been much kinder to Derby this year than last.
The Rams collected only one point from 12 and failed to score a goal in February 2012.
This year, the month has so far brought a win and two draws in four matches.