GARY Rowett says January signing David Gray has an important role to play at Burton Albion in their promotion push.
The 25-year-old defender has only started one match since joining the Brewers from Stevenage on a short-term contract which runs to the end of the season.
He came in at right wing-back for the visit to Torquay and was impressive both in defence and going forward.
But with Albion reverting to a 4-4-2 formation against Accrington, Gray found himself back on the bench.
And Rowett sympathised with the former Manchester United youth player after he was dropped.
“I spoke to David on the Friday and just said that I was really pleased with him,” said the manager.
“When I spoke to him originally he wasn’t involved at all at Stevenage.
“I tried to bring him in last summer and when I spoke to him in January I said it might work for both of us.
“I told him that Phil Edwards has been doing brilliantly and it’s not a situation where he would come straight in.
“But there might be something further down the line.”
Gray, who has also made one substitute appearance, at Rochdale, understands his situation at the Pirelli Stadium and has already made a good impression.
“I was pretty honest with David and I think he appreciated and accepted it,” said Rowett. “He’s no different to anyone else - he’s disappointed not to play and get in the team.
“I think he’s going to have to be patient.
“When he does get in the team, whether that’s at right-back, right midfield, or wherever, I think he’s going to be an excellent player for us.
“I really like him and have been really impressed with his attitude.
“Sometimes when you change a formation you wish you could keep the players the same as well!”
Striker Gary Alexander, too, has been in and out of the side since signing in January, but, like Gray, Rowett says the 34-year-old has really bought into what the Brewers are trying to achieve.
“Him and Gary Alexander, they’ve been around a few clubs and they want to be a part of what we want to do.
“Both will be terrific for us this season in different ways.
“And when they’re not playing they get right behind everyone else.”
BURTON Albion’s official supporters’ club is hoping to take a second coach to Oxford on Saturday.
The first is full, but the club would like to take as many fans as possible to the Kassam Stadium and are hoping to fill a second.
The coaches depart the Pirelli at noon and will return by approximately 6.30pm. Return tickets cost £11.
Further information is available by telephoning 01283 565938.