OMAR Mascarell is knocking on the door to make a first start for Derby County tomorrow night.
The 21-year-old midfielder, on loan from Real Madrid, is pushing to face Charlton Athletic at the Valley after making an impact in his two appearances as a substitute.
He came off the bench in the Championship fixtures against Rotherham United on the opening weekend and again in Saturday’s goalless draw with Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.
Steve McClaren has been pleased with Mascarell’s contribution and the head coach has hinted that the Spaniard could line up at Charlton.
Mascarell replaced Will Hughes after an hour of Saturday’s game and slotted into the holding role in front of the back four.
McClaren felt Mascarell gave Derby more control.
“Omar came on and calmed us down,” said McClaren.
“He got hold of the ball, screened the back four well, and Nuhiu [Wednesday striker Atdhe Nuhiu] wasn’t as much of a threat as he had been first half.”
Hughes started the game as the holding midfielder before McClaren made a tactical switch at half time. He moved Jeff Hendrick deeper and Hughes further forward before Mascarell was introduced.
“Nuhiu was causing us problems, he was dropping into the hole and physically he is a handful,” said McClaren.
“We couldn’t get control of the game and so we tried Jeff for 10 minutes and then put Mascarell on, and I thought he did great.
“He was very intelligent, played it well and we grew into the game and finished very strongly.
“Omar just has to adapt. He came on against Rotherham United and he could not believe the pace of the game.
“I wanted to play him against Carlisle in the Capital One Cup but we didn’t score early enough to get him on, and Will Hughes did well.
“Against Wednesday, we were a little hesitant. May be we should have put Mascarell on at half time but he came on for the last half hour and was excellent.”
Derby have Hughes, Mascarell and John Eustace vying for the role in the absence of the injured George Thorne.
“I think Will has done fantastic in that position, against Rotherham for an hour and at Carlisle, but we just felt the Sheffield Wednesday game was a little different,” said McClaren.
“It was difficult for him to get into it and control the game like he does, and we have options. That is key, and Omar has come in and given us another option.”