DERBY County are working hard behind the scenes in their bid to strengthen the squad ahead of the new season, according to coach Paul Simpson.
The Rams’ only new signings so far are goalkeeper Jonathan Mitchell and attacking midfielder Alban Bunjaku - both of who are expected to form part of the 2014-15 development squad.
But the club are actively pursuing other targets, including West Bromwich Albion midfielder George Thorne and Leeds United striker Ross McCormack, as they aim to build on last season’s third-place finish in the Championship.
“Although there hasn’t been a hell of a lot going on so far, there’s been plenty of work going on behind the scenes,” said Simpson.
“There are people having conversations with agents and players and we are trying to make sure we have a good enough squad to try to do at least the same as we did last season.
“If it’s not for the start of pre-season, we’ll look to get it for the opening game on August 9.
“If we can’t get them by then, we’ll look to do it before the end of that first transfer window.
“Our focus is on getting players in who are going to make us even better than last season.”
Derby have already had a bid of just under £1m for Thorne (pictured) rejected.
West Brom have also turned down a formal transfer request from the 21-year-old, who impressed during a loan spell at Pride Park last term.
The Baggies have just appointed Alan Irvine as their new head coach.
“I think if anything is going to happen with George Thorne, then the fact they’ve now got a manager will help that situation,” said Simpson.
“George is a player who we all liked last season and we know the job he did for us.
“There’s been talk that he’s somebody we want to bring in permanently.
“Whether Alan Irvine, as the new manager at West Brom, looks at George and thinks he can play for them, I don’t know that.
“In an ideal world, we’d have players back in for pre-season with a squad that will give us a right good chance.
“Whether George is one of them, it’s too early for me to make any comment on that.
“We’ll have to wait and see what happens.”