Valentin Gjokaj makes early return from Carlisle loan spell
DERBY County have recalled Valentin Gjokaj from his loan spell to safeguard being caught short of fit central defenders during the busy festive programme.
Gjokaj joined League One club Carlisle United last month.
The 19-year-old's stay was due to run until January 2 but the Rams have activated a clause in the agreement to recall him.
Jake Buxton's absence for two months with a knee injury had left Derby with three centre backs in Richard Keogh, Mark O'Brien and James O'Connor.
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O'Brien made his first start for more than a year in the victory at Bristol City on Saturday and the 19-year-old missed training earlier this week through illness.
Manager Nigel Clough said: "We've decided to bring Val back into the fold over Christmas because we don't want to take any risks with regards to being short in defence.
"He's had a good few weeks at Carlisle and being involved in their matchday squad will have been a great learning curve for him."
Gjokaj made one appearance for Carlisle when he came off the bench at half-time in their FA Cup second round defeat by Bournemouth.
Derby start a run of four matches in 12 days when they take on Hull City at Pride Park on Friday night. They then face Burnley, Charlton Athletic and Middlesbrough.