NIGEL Clough will have no qualms about Michael Hoganson retaining his place in the Derby County side on Tuesday night, if no other options become available.
The Rams host Bolton Wanderers, kick-off 7.45pm, looking to improve on a low-key performance in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Hoganson’s full debut at left-back was one of the few positives to come out of that match, and with first-choice Gareth Roberts still suspended, Clough is happy to keep faith with the 19-year-old former Newcastle United youth-teamer.
Derby are still sounding out possible loan deals, but it is unlikely anything will happen before the game.
And Clough said: “We’ve made a couple of enquiries again and are waiting to hear back.
“We’ve got enough injuries and the suspension has compounded it.
“But we proved on Saturday that we can put a side out to compete, even with the youngsters in.
“Whether they can do it again or not if they need to, we’ll see.”
On Hoganson, he said: “It was a very composed and accomplished debut.
“It’s easier in some ways for your first one, with the adrenalin and everything.
“It’ll be harder for him if he plays tonight but I’m sure he’ll cope.
“We think the crowd will want to see more of Michael, as most of them can’t get to under-21 games on a Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s all good experience for him, and looking ahead to next season or later this season, if we have to put him in again then he’s had a few games under his belt.”
Meanwhile, Clough is hoping that Tuesday’s late kick-off will help to inspire his team to a more energetic display than against Wolves, and admitted that as a player, he relished evening games.
He said: “A night match always helps.
“I don’t know why, but players always seem to have a bit more energy for the evening kick-offs.
“We’ve got all day to look forward to it.
“When we were players, we always prefered evening games.
“I think we’ll be back, better than we were on Saturday.”
On Bolton, he said: “They’ll be that bit more physical and stronger, as ex-Premier League players are.
“They have that presence and it’ll be another good challenge for us.”
Clough was keen not to focus on the negatives of Saturday, praising both the clean sheet and the fact that his players made sure they did not lose a tough match against more physical opponents.
“These points are valuable points and this time last season we were losing games.
“It’s a mark of a little bit of progress.
“Everyone is moaning about a 0-0, but we’ve only had two all season.
“It’s better than a 1-0 home defeat and we’ve had a couple of those in the past.
“But this season we’ve only lost two at home, and they were narrow defeats as well.
“No-one has come to Pride Park and played us off the pitch.”
Mark O’Brien and Jimmy O’Connor are out, while Will Hughes is a slight doubt after tweaking his groin against Wolves.
“He’s probably just played too many games, and with hs body not being fully developed, that doesn’t help.”
Jake Buxton could be on the bench as he steps up his recovery from injury.
CLOUGH also revealed that Tom Naylor turned down the chance to go out on loan last week.
The defender, 21, has recently returned from a spell with League Cup finalists Bradford City.
PROBABLE TEAM (4-4-2): Legzdins; Freeman, Keogh, Brayford, Hoganson; Coutts, Hendrick, Hughes, Bryson; Ward, Sammon.