Experienced duo give Derby County a boost ahead of Crystal Palace clash
NIGEL Clough says the return of experienced defenders Jake Buxton and Gareth Roberts is a timely boost for Derby County.
And Buxton being available again to play centre-back will see John Brayford revert to right-back when Crystal Palace visit Pride Park in the Championship tomorrow.
Buxton has been troubled by the same knee that kept him out for nine weeks but he came off the bench to play the second half at Watford on Saturday.
Roberts has served his three-match ban for the red card he received in the defeat at Hull.
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The 35-year-old is in the squad again just as 19-year-old left back Michael Hoganson looks likely to miss the Palace fixture.
Hoganson, who has filled in for Roberts, limped off at Watford and is a doubt.
"Michael took a nasty knock on the hip and his foot. He had ice on both but I think his hip was the more painful," said manager Nigel Clough.
"He's walking OK now but I don't think he will make Friday's game. Hopefully, he will be fit sometime next week."
Midfielder Ben Davies covered at left-back in the second half at Watford, having started the game at right-back but he is doubtful with a groin problem.
Another full-back, Kieron Freeman, is out with an ankle injury and is about a week or so away from fitness, while James O'Connor (knee) is still sidelined.
So, the return of Buxton and Roberts is timely.
"We might have four defenders fit – that would be a luxury!" said Clough, who was without six defenders ahead of the Watford game.
"I thought Jake looked good for 45 minutes at Watford without being 100%," said Clough.
"He has got the experience to look after the injury a bit and, hopefully, he will be fine to face Palace tomorrow.
"We can then get John Brayford back to right-back.
"He has been very good standing in at centre-half but you saw the difference when he went back to right-back on Saturday. He gets the ball and goes forward with it.
"It's good to have Jake and Gareth back. Both are experienced players, which we probably need in our situation at the moment."
Derby have picked up only three points from the last 15.