DERBY County are hoping to bring in a left-back on loan after Gareth Roberts was sent off against Hull City on Tuesday night.
The veteran defender was shown a straight red card in the closing minutes of the 2-1 defeat at the KC Stadium after a tackle on Tigers striker Nick Proschwitz, and now faces a three-match ban, meaning he will miss the games against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Bolton Wanderers and Watford.
John Brayford, Kieron Freeman and Jimmy O’Connor have all filled in for the 35-year-old Wales international in the past, but the former two are likely to be required elsewhere in the back four, while O’Connor is still recovering from a knee injury and may not be fit enough for Saturday’s home game against Wolves.
Manager Nigel Clough said: “We are looking bringing some in on loan and we’ve made an inquiry about one player, but if we can’t do something there we’ll look to solve the problem from within.
“We’ve done that for the majority of the season and we’ve set our stall out this season to give people a chance from the group we have, but Gareth’s position is more of a specialist one and that’s why we’re looking at bringing in a left-back on loan with a bit of experience.
“If not, we’ll go with what we’ve got and go from there.”
If Clough does have to promote from within, he does have a like-for-like replacement in 19-year-old Michael Hoganson, who has been on the bench for the last two matches after making his Rams debut in the 3-1 New Year’s Day win over Middlesbrough.
The former Newcastle United trainee only has three minutes of professional football under his belt, however Clough did say when the youngster joined that he would provide cover on the left-side.
Speaking in August, the former Burton Albion boss said: “Primarily, we want him to be part of the new under-21 side.
“But he will also provide cover down the left-hand side for the first team.”
Another option would be for the slightly more experienced Valentin Gjokaj to come into the heart of the defence, with either Freeman or Brayford switching to left-back.
The Swiss-born centre-back, 20, has also only played three minutes for the Rams, but did recently play the full 90 minutes for Albania under-21s.
The Rams are unlikely to appeal Roberts’ ban, despite Clough’s view that the decision was a little harsh.
Referee Robert Madley made a number of dubious decisions on the night, and the Rams manager said: “From our view it was hard to tell but a few of our lads felt it was harsh, as did some of the Hull boys too.
“Gareth went for the ball, but the referee got his card out very quickly and unless it’s blatantly obvious it was the wrong decision we won’t appeal.”