NIGEL Clough is looking for a more aggressive edge to his Derby County midfield — especially as his hands are tied in the transfer market.
The Rams boss is looking for a more combative show from his midfield when Derby County face Leeds United at Pride Park tomorrow, kick-off 1pm.
Clough feels his side can do more when they have lost the ball.
And in particular he wants to see his midfielders snapping into tackles — especially as there is no money to go out and strengthen the squad.
“We don’t want someone in there just breaking things up,” said the Rams boss. “And to get somebody who can do that and play as well is probably beyond us at this moment.
“That’s why we’re trying to turn someone into that.
“We don’t want to lose the fluency of what we’ve got in there at the moment.”
The most likely candidate to become more of an ‘enforcer’ is 20-year-old Jeff Hendrick.
Clough thinks the young Irishman showed signs of a tougher side to his game last season but has somehow forgotten about it in what has been a poor second year in the game.
“A ball-winning midfielder has been a concern since Sav (Robbie Savage) left,” said Clough.
“Jeff had a bit of it last season — he was physical and got a challenge in.
“That’s just gone from his game a bit.
“We’re looking at it and showing him DVDs from last season.
“Jeff didn’t play badly on Saturday (at Leicester) but he didn’t get a tackle in.
“He’s got that in his locker — it’s just a case of finding it again.”
Although Clough wants his Derby side to be more combative — something they will need to display against Neil Warnock’s battling Leeds side tomorrow, kick-off 1pm — he does not want to see open thuggery.
“What we don’t want is players getting themselves sent off for flying into tackles,” he said. “When playing well you forget a little bit about the other side of the game.
“Paul Coutts should have a bit of it in him because he’s come down from Scotland, where he played in the Highland League.
“He’s showed little bits of it.
“We’ve got to concentrate on getting that ball back.
“We need a bit more edge to our game.
“But we certainly don’t want to lose the way we’re playing because this season has been on a different level to previous seasons.”