05:00 Tuesday 17 December 2013

Burton Albion's Rory Delap: a risk worth taking, says boss Gary Rowett

Written byTOM SLOAN

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GARY Rowett says signing Rory Delap for Burton Albion had been a gamble worth taking after the veteran hung up his boots.

Delap, 37, looked a class act in the seven appearances he made for the Brewers in August and September.

But time unfortunately caught up with the former Stoke City and Derby County man and he suffered a hamstring injury which would not clear up.

Yesterday, after 587 games in an 18-year senior career, Delap called it a day after three months trying to regain fitness.

“I think that looking back I would still have made the same decision to sign Rory in the summer,” said Brewers boss Rowett.

“The quality he’s got – which he showed in pre-season and in the early games – told us he had an awful lot to offer.

“The gamble you always take, and we’ve done before, is when you sign a player of Rory’s age, it’s a gamble you won’t get 40 games out of them.

“After that initial burst, you hit that point when you get that first niggle and they can mount up and end up being worse than a serious injury.

“I think Rory struggled to get back from that.

“Every player comes to it after a period and you’ve got to look inwardly to make that decision.”

Delap, who scored on his Albion debut to salvage a draw at Cheltenham Town, has been a popular player around the club and Rowett says the ex-Republic of Ireland international has left a lasting impression.

“We obviously support his decision to retire,” said the Brewers boss. “Rory has done a lot of good stuff for the club in a short space of time.

“The publicity of him coming to Burton raised our profile in the first place.

“He was brilliant to have around the club and he did a lot of work in the community too.

“He also helped out a lot of the younger players and we’re really thankful for that.”

Losing Delap is a blow for Albion, but in his absence since getting injured in September, Phil Edwards has proven a more than capable right-back.

“Phil’s emergence in that position meant Rory would not have automatically got back in,” said Rowett, whose own playing days were ended early by a knee injury. “But that never softens the blow of someone finishing (their career).

“I had to finish at 30 when effectively I was at my peak as a central defender.

“At least for Rory he came to a natural end in football and played an awful lot of games.

“He’s going to take some time away to consider his options and he’s got a bright future - he should be very positive.”

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