JAKE Buxton could return to Derby County’s starting line-up against Burnley at Pride Park this afternoon.
The 27-year-old former Burton Albion centre-half replaced James O’Connor towards the end of Tuesday night’s 3-2 victory over Charlton Athetlic.
Rams boss Nigel Clough admitted O’Connor was beginning to look jaded against the Addicks and Buxton could replace the summer signing, whose preferred position is at right-back.
“Jimmy looked a little bit tired,” he said. “He was struggling to win his headers.
“With Ricardo Fuller and Yann Kermorgant, they had a big aerial threat.
“So we put Jake on for the last 10 minutes to shore it up.
“We’ll see how James is towards Saturday.
“He had a disrupted pre-season and has played four or five games with the adrenaline getting him through.
“It might be hitting him now.”
For Buxton, an opportunity to get back in the team would be deserved after he started the season with a bang, netting three times in the opening two matches before losing his place because of flu.
He has since made three substitute appearances and is fully fit after his illness.
The other injury worries ahead of today’s match, kick-off 3pm, centre around strikers Nathan Tyson and Mason Bennett.
Tyson has been struggling with a throat ailment while Bennett has a thigh strain.
Both are not expected to be involved.
Derby are gunning for their second home win of the week — and will encounter former Ram Jason Shackell in the claret and blue of Burnley after his £1.1 million summer move to Lancashire.
“I hope he gets a good reception,” said Clough of a defender who just missed out on the club’s player of the year award. “Just with the economics of it and everything it made sense for him to move on.
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“I hope Conor Sammon and Jamie Ward give him a torrid time afterwards!
“Despite the goals we’ve conceded so far, we haven’t really missed him.
“I don’t think him being there would have made any difference.
“Richard Keogh has been a more than adequate replacement.”
Shackell’s departure caused a storm in a teacup among the Rams faithful, with several dozen asking for their sesaon ticket money to be returned.
Keogh’s wholehearted performances while wearing the captain’s armband hvae instantly won most fans over.
“He’s so likeminded with the rest of the squad with the way he approaches things,” said Clough of a player who was bought from Coventry City for £1.2m.
“Shaun Barker’s our club captain and it will stay that way, but Richard is leading the team very well on the pitch.
“He’s the same off the pitch and on the pitch.”