Nigel Clough: We just need a little bit of extra quality
NIGEL Clough says 2012 has been a good year for Derby County – but feels that an extra bit of quality in certain areas is needed to take the next step.
The Rams play their final game of the year today when they tackle Charlton Athletic at the Valley.
Derby are mid-table in 12th place – the same position they finished last season. They have taken 33 points from 24 League games, putting them four points off the top six and 11 clear of the relegation zone.
Their record at the same time 12 months ago is very similar but Clough said: "I think it's been a good year for us. We have been pleased with the progress we've made.
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"Now it's about taking it on and trying to turn those good performances into results.
"And that's without being negative. We still want to get the ball down and play.
"We just need that extra bit of quality in certain areas."
Clough has put a lot of faith in his young players – the likes of Will Hughes (17), Jeff Hendrick (20), Mark O'Brien (20) and Michael Jacobs (21).
"We're a young side and they're learning every single game – the likes of Will, Jeff, OB and Jacobs," added the Rams boss.
"There's no quick fix with them. It's just a matter of time."
The Rams are hoping to avoid ending the year by suffering three successive defeats for the first time this season as they look to bounce back from the 2-1 home loss to Hull City and a 2-0 reverse at Burnley on Boxing Day.
"We're determined not to end the year with three defeats," said Clough.
"We've talked about being more solid away from home and I think we were solid at Burnley, apart from two unfortunate goals.
"We restricted them to two chances in the first half. We didn't create much ourselves but we're not at a stage where we can have it both ways.
"We don't have the resources to play teams off the park, create loads of chance and be solid at the same time."
Derby have lost five of their last six matches on the road – their only success coming at struggling Bristol City earlier this month.
They have only managed to score 10 goals in 12 away League matches, while conceding 21.
"We'd like to have scored a few more goals away from home," said Clough.
"We've had enough of the play but it's about turning that into goal-scoring chances.
"That's the next stage. When you are having good spells, who is going to get you a goal or make a goal?"
Liverpool have opened talks to sign England goalkeeper Jack Butland, Birmingham City acting chairman Peter Pannu has confirmed.
Pannu has admitted that he is prepared to sell Butland, along with other key players, in January to stop the Championship club from going into administration.
Birmingham have hit financial trouble because of debts incurred by parent company Birmingham International Holdings Limited, as well as loss of revenue caused by relegation.