Stand-in Ben Davies could do the job again
NIGEL Clough will have no hesitation in naming Ben Davies as stand-in right-back against the Championship's top scorers Watford on Saturday.
Clough says the 31-year-old midfielder typifies the spirit running through the Rams camp.
Davies, whose first-team chances this season have been limited, came off the bench after 29 minutes of Tuesday's draw against Bolton Wanderers when Kieron Freeman limped off with a damaged ankle.
Freeman now faces three to four weeks out and Derby are hoping central defender Jake Buxton will train tomorrow with a view to playing at Watford, which would allow John Brayford to revert from centre-back to his usual right-back role.
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If Buxton fails to shake off his knee problem, Davies is in line to continue as an emergency right back against third-placed Watford, who have lost only one of their last eight League matches.
With centre-backs James O'Connor, Mark O'Brien and Shaun Barker out, Clough says much will depend on Buxton's availability.
"If it is down to desire to get out on the pitch, Jake will be there. We have got him pencilled in to train on Friday," said Clough.
"If Jake doesn't make it, we will have no hesitation keeping Ben at right-back.
"I thought he was great there against Bolton. He played a few games for Notts in that position, no problem, and we nearly played him there against Wolves on Saturday.
"That would have meant moving Kieron Freeman over to left-back and not giving Michael Hoganson an opportunity but we thought we would put players in their proper positions.
"Ben just typifies the group. He comes in, out of position, tries his socks off and plays well.
"He is a great professional. He is ready to come on at any minute, whether it is the first minute or the last minute, and do a job for us.
"He has been brilliant to have around in the past two years.
"At £150,000, we think we have had our money's worth from him!"
Of the other injured centre backs, O'Connor (knee) has got a chance of being fit for the Crystal Palace game and O'Brien (knee) is two weeks into his four-week recuperation.