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John Metgod backs Derby County youngsters to fill in during injury crisis

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: March 06, 2013

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JOHN Metgod admits Derby County’s injuries have made “a hell of a difference”, but praised the young players who have stepped up to the mark.

Craig Bryson (groin), John Brayford and Jamie Ward (both hamstring) were recently added to an injury list that also includes Kieron Freeman (ankle), James O’Connor (knee), Will Hughes (groin), Mark O’Brien (knee) and Shaun Barker (knee).

And coach Metgod admits that the latest blows have hit the team hard.

The former Real Madrid, Nottingham Forest and Tottenham Hotspur defender said: “With Wardy, Bryson and Brayford you’ve got players injured who would normally play, and that makes a hell of a difference to the team.

“But that gives youngsters the chance like Val (Gjokaj), like (Michael) Hoganson and like (Kieron) Freeman.

“So we try and look on the positive side from that point of view.”

Brayford and Ward are almost certainly out for this weekend’s trip to Birmingham City, with Bryson the only player with a chance of escaping the physio’s room in time for the game at St Andrews.

However, Metgod was reluctant to put a time frame on any player’s return, saying: “We’ll have to give it another couple of days.

“It’s difficult at the moment to put a length of time on the injuries and say this player is going to be out for four, six weeks, or whatever.”

On Brayford, who is awaiting a scan, he said: “It needs a scan, but it’s not done yet, so we’ll have to see how that progresses over the next few days.

“Whether it’s a long-term one, it’s hard to tell at the moment.”

Ward had a scan on Monday, but Metgod said: “A scan gives you some idea, but is not the absolute proof.

“Far more important is how the player feels.

“Wardy has been in this situation so he’s got to have some experience, and when he gets out and starts running, that’s when we get some idea of how long it’s going to be.”

In the meantime, the likes of Valentin Gjokaj and Craig Forsyth, who made their debuts in last night’s draw at Championship leaders Cardiff City, are likely to retain their places, with Metgod insisting that no injured player would be rushed back.

He said: “We’ve got to be very careful because there’s still 10 games to play.

“There’s no point in bringing players back for one game and then they’re out for four or five weeks.

“You want to make sure that if you’re bringing them back, it’s the right time and that they can play whatever games are left.

“We’re looking at our own youngsters and we’re trying to get players in who can do a job for us.”

Gjokaj, a centre-half by trade, played in an unfamiliar right-back role at the Cardiff City Stadium, and after picking up an early yellow card, had a solid game.

Metgod said: “I think that he did remarkably well.

“He came in at right-back where he’s played occasionally for the under-21s, but it’s not his position.

“Then he gets booked early on so he’s got to be careful for the rest of the game, but he didn’t get into trouble, and I think he developed during the game.”

On Forsyth, who stepped in on the left of midfield, Metgod said: “He was very good, very aggressive.

“We knew that he’s got a lovely left foot and he can play in that left-wing position.

“He was doing remarkably well trying to win the ball and close people down.

“And on the ball, he knows what he was doing.”

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