Patience key for Mason in bid for first-team role
NIGEL Clough says Mason Bennett is improving all the time but the young Derby County striker will have to be patient for his chances in the first team.
Bennett scored his first senior goal in the FA Cup victory over Tranmere Rovers and became the club's youngest-ever scorer.
The 16-year-old also struck twice in a friendly against Burton earlier this week, as did Nathan Tyson and Theo Robinson.
Clough has been impressed by the way Bennett has handled training and playing full-time after leaving school.
"He is coming along nicely in terms of his development," said Clough.
"He is a little bit down the pecking order because of the strikers we have got available.
"We have got Conor Sammon, we have played Michael Jacobs up there, then we have Nathan Tyson and Theo Robinson on the bench and, hopefully, Jamie Ward on his way back from injury.
"So Mason is going to have to bide his time and be patient.
"Depending on what happens in January, he might find himself further up that pecking order."
All four of Bennett's appearances this season have been as a substitute.
Ward trained yesterday after playing for an hour in the friendly against Burton Albion.
He is working his way back to fitness following a three-month absence with hamstring trouble.
"Jamie has had no ill-effects from the Burton game, so far," said Clough.
"We will keep assessing him towards Saturday.
"We have to err on the side of caution with him because he has been out for so long.
"He played for an hour the other day and did absolutely everything in training on Wednesday morning.
"He cannot wait to get back and make up for the last three months.
"If he is not involved at the weekend, we will look to build him up to the Nottingham Forest game."
Derby have sold almost 1,000 of their allocation of 1,300 tickets for Saturday's Championship clash at Brighton & Hove Albion.
The Rams have confirmed the date for their FA Cup fourth-round tie against Blackburn Rovers at Pride Park Stadium.
The tie will be played on Saturday, January 26, with a 3pm kick off.