A RIGHT-BACK is firmly on Derby County’s summer shopping list regardless of whether Kieron Freeman leaves the club, coach Paul Simpson has confirmed.
On-loan Andre Wisdom (pictured) made the position his own for the Rams last term but has now returned to parent club Liverpool.
Freeman was sent out on loan himself during the 2013-14 campaign – first to Notts County and then Sheffield United.
The Blades are keen to land the Wales Under-21 international again, with talks between the clubs reportedly at an advanced stage.
Freeman is currently the only recognised senior right-back on Derby’s books.
“It’s a position we have identified that we need to bring somebody in,” said Simpson.
“You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to realise that.
“Andre Wisdom was excellent for us last season and, before that, we had Adam Smith (on loan from Tottenham).
“So right-back is an area that we need somebody else in, whether Kieron Freeman stays or not, because you’ve got to have cover in all positions.”
MEANWHILE, Simpson says Derby are keen to keep last season’s squad together as they push for automatic promotion to the Premier League.
The Rams went close to going up last term but fell at the last hurdle when Queens Park Rangers beat them in the play-off final at Wembley.
Steve McClaren’s men have been listed as the bookies’ second favourites to win the league, behind Cardiff City.
And Simpson says the coaching staff are keen to retain the nucleus of the squad for the 2014-15 campaign as they look to maintain their upward momentum.
“We want to keep everybody together,” he said.
“We really enjoyed what happened last season - the momentum that we built - and I think the supporters did as well.
“We’ve got to make sure we keep that momentum going and keep things moving forward.
“We know there are going to be little knock-backs and whether that is because somebody leaves or gets an injury, we’ve got no idea. We can’t legislate for that sort of thing.
“All we can do is make sure we build a squad and keep the momentum going.
“The fans have been absolutely different class since we came in and we don’t want to start the season on a low point for them.
“So, we need to keep our best players here if we possibly can.”
The likes of Craig Bryson and Richard Keogh have been linked with a move to the top flight.
Simpson believes Derby still has plenty to offer, even if Premier League clubs do come knocking,
“We don’t really know what’s going to happen,” he added.
“Everybody wants to play in the Premier League, we know that.
“But what we are saying to players is that we want to be there as well. We want to take Derby County to the Premier League.
“We’re not saying it will be this year but we want to build something and keep building it, to make sure we’re getting stronger as a football club.
“Hopefully, players will see that.
“I might be a little bit biased but I don’t think this is a bad place to be!
“I think this is a good environment to be in and if we can keep building, over time, we will get where we want to be.
“Then, the players will get the opportunity to play at the highest level and, hopefully, they can see that.”