PAUL Coutts is set to return to the Derby County line-up for tonight’s home clash with Charlton Athletic.
The 24-year-old midfielder missed Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Huddersfield Town with flu, but he trained yesterday and has been able to eat since Friday, so Rams boss Nigel Clough is optimistic his summer signing will return.
“He’s had fully blown flu,” said Clough. “But he looked better at the weekend and was eating again on Friday.
“I hope we can get him out there and he’s got enough strength to start the game.
“Paul’s been one of our better players this season.”
Coutts was replaced by Conor Doyle on the right of midfield at the John Smith’s Stadium — with the travelling Rams faithful ironically cheering the young American from the field when he was taken off.
However, Clough was more concerned with the lacklustre performance of Jeff Hendrick, who is yet to hit top form this season.
“Conor didn’t do too badly,” said the Rams boss. “I know some of the crowd weren’t happy with him, but we were more worried about Jeff.
“He was lumbering and didn’t look like he had a run in him.
“Conor wasn’t brilliant, but there were worse than him.”
Derby enjoyed the lion’s share of possession against Huddersfield after falling behind just 46 seconds into the game.
So far this season they have managed to retain the ball well, but only against Watford did they really create the chances their domination deserved in a 5-1 victory.
It is something Clough and his coaching team are working on in the hope of developing a killer instinct which results in goals.
“We’re trying to get the balance between keeping the ball, like the 60 per cent possession we had on Saturday, and creating chances,” said the former Burton Albion manager.
“We need to be more clinical in the final third.
“We created chances and scored goals against Watford, but probably had more possession against Wolves (1-1 draw) and Huddersfield.
“On Saturday, we had the possession but didn’t create chances to work the keeper.”
Clough rates tonight’s opponents Charlton highly and is impressed with the job done at The Valley by popular ex-Rams man Chris Powell.
“He’s done brilliantly,” he said. “He brought an awful lot of players in at the start of last season and got them straight back up into the Championship.
“Charlton are another newly promoted side and they come to us off the back of a 1-0 defeat in their local derby on Friday.”
DERBY have appointed a replacement for departed chief executive Tom Glick.
Double Oxford Blue Sam Rush - a former Saracens rugby player - will start in the post in January.
An old boy of Mansfield College, Oxford, Rush has been working at Wasserman Media Group, a company which represents the interests of hundreds of professional footballers.
The leading sports laywer said: “Within the UK sports business industry, Derby are rightly seen as an innovative club.
“I look forward to delivering some of the exciting plans already in place, as well as bringing some of my own ideas to Pride Park.”