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Derby County: Cyrus Christie adds attacking dimension on the right

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: August 16, 2014

ATTACKING THREAT ... Derby County's new full-back Cyrus Christie.

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JEFF Hendrick collected the man-of-the-match champagne after Derby County's opening-day victory over Rotherham United but Cyrus Christie deserved a glass or two.

Christie's marauding run from right-back set up Hendrick to hit the winner eight minutes from time.

The assist capped a solid debut by the 21-year-old and he followed that with a positive display in the Capital One Cup win against Carlisle United at Brunton Park on Monday.

With all due respects to Rotherham and Carlisle, there will be tougher examinations ahead for Derby and Christie but supporters have been impressed by his performances so far.

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A feature of the two wins has been the contribution of the full-backs.

Craig Forsyth has continued the consistent form he showed from November onwards last season and he is developing his game at left-back having started his career as a left-sided midfielder.

The signing of Christie from Coventry City this summer dipped under the radar somewhat as the "George Thorne saga" was in full swing.

Derby's chase for Thorne dominated the Rams' headlines in June and July.

The midfielder had made such a good impression during his loan spell from West Bromwich Albion last season he became Steve McClaren's top transfer target and fans were delighted when he signed.

Meanwhile, Christie settled in quietly during pre-season and started the friendlies against Notts County, Zenit St Petersburg, Slavia Sarajevo, Burton Albion and Rangers.

He has some big boots to fill after Andre Wisdom's impact when on loan from Liverpool last season.

Wisdom made 38 consecutive appearances and added notably to the team's defensive strength although he was less effective in the final third of the pitch, a part of his game he needs to improve.

I can only recall him making one assist, when he stormed down the right and delivered an excellent cross to the back post for Chris Martin to score with a downward header in the 2-1 victory against Barnsley at Oakwell.

Christie is more comfortable in forward areas, as we have seen already, and therefore balances Derby's attacking threat.

McClaren points this out when discussion turns to Christie.

"Last season, with Craig Forsyth's positive contribution, we were perhaps a little bit of a one-sided team and other teams could maybe try to shore that side up.

"Now we have got a threat down the right-hand side with Cyrus Christie.

"When it is a full-back game, as it was at Carlisle, we have got two very good full-backs supplying the chances."

Christie's attacking prowess received praise from those who watched him play more than 100 times for Coventry but there was a question mark over his defending, not an unusual concern when it comes to the modern-day full-back.

So far, Christie has not been found wanting defensively.

He has come out on top in one-on-one situations, which remains one of the better sights in football.

This has pleased McClaren.

"We've seen his recovery and defending, Cyrus is quick," said McClaren.

"He has got things he needs to improve on in his position but, going forward, what a threat and what delivery."

Christie is only 21, and still learning his trade, his position.

He will learn from McClaren's coaching, no doubt, and seems eager to learn and that is key for young players.

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