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George Thorne is given Derby County seal of approval following John Eustace's two-game suspension

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: March 18, 2014

BANNED . . . John Eustace picked up a yellow card against Reading on Saturday and now must serve a two-game suspension

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DERBY County would have no fear about handing on-loan midfielder George Thorne a baptism of fire debut against rivals Nottingham Forest.

The 20-year-old is in the frame to face the Reds in Saturday's televised Championship clash at the iPro Stadium.

John Eustace's suspension for reaching 10 yellow cards and an injury worry over Will Hughes leaves Thorne on standby.

He has yet to feature since arriving on loan from West Bromwich Albion six weeks ago as cover and competition for Eustace in the holding role in midfield.

"We brought George in because he plays that role so well," said first-team coach Paul Simpson.

"If he was called on, I am confident he would be able to go in and do a job."

Simpson admits making a debut in a hectic East Midlands derby would be a big ask of Thorne, but he believes the player would cope.

"If George had never played in the Championship I think we would have a concern but he spent a period at Watford earlier this season where he had a run of 90-minute games, so he knows the league," said Simpson.

"I thought last week was probably his best week of training with us, I thought he was excellent. I wouldn't have any fear if he had to go into the Forest game because he has shown he is a really talented footballer.

"The manager will make the final call on what system we go with, and if we do go with the same shape, is it George Thorne who goes into that position."

Simpson says losing Eustace to a two-match ban is a blow but the Rams have their fingers crossed that Hughes will be fit despite limping off after 30 minutes of the goalless draw at Reading with a groin strain.

"John Eustace has been a big part of our team," said Simpson.

"We have to be honest, we knew a suspension was coming. We cannot believe he has lasted this long without picking up a 10th booking.

"It opens the door for somebody else now, and what a fantastic game for whoever might come into the team."

On Hughes' chances of facing Forest, Simpson said: "A scan has shown signs of a very small strain but we are hopeful that if we can look after him and wrap him in cotton wool for the first part of the week he will be able to join in training by the end of the week and be available for the weekend.

"We will air on the side of caution because we want him available, and so if he has to miss one game and be available for the last nine games then that is better than playing on Saturday and not being availbale after that.

"Fingers crossed he will come through the week and be available for selection."

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