STEVE McClaren says striker Patrick Bamford has the quality to make a big impact for Derby County as they look to stay in the top six.
Bamford showed with his winning goal against Brighton why the Rams were so keen to sign him on loan from Chelsea.
“We know Patrick has quality and we know he can change games,” smiled McClaren after watching the 20-year-old sink Brighton 1-0 at the iPro Stadium.
Bamford changed Saturday’s Championship clash.
He came off the bench after an hour having made his debut as a substitute in the defeat at Leicester City eight days earlier.
His winning strike arrived in the 76th minute with a stunning strike to beat Brighton’s Tomasz Kuszczak – and further cement Derby’s fourth-place position in the Championship.
McClaren saluted the finish.
“He showed great composure and we know it is something he is capable of doing,” said the Rams head coach.
“We have got quite a few good young players here but Patrick showed why we brought him in.
“It is up to him to force himself into the team and his performance against Brighton won’t do him any harm.”
Bamford hit 17 goals in 30 games while on loan at League One club MK Dons in the first half of the season. He has goals in his locker.
“Patrick was finishing like that in training during the week,” said McClaren.
“We needed a calm head in that situation. There was no panic when other players might have snatched at the chance and the ball would have gone flying over the bar – like his free kick did a few minutes earlier.
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Continued We are still looking for the ball!”
Bamford was close to starting against Brighton, McClaren admitted.
“Patrick was one we considered starting and quite a few other players went through our mind as well during the week,” said the Rams’ head coach.
“I could have made a lot of changes after the Leicester game.”
McClaren made two - skipper Richard Keogh and experienced midfielder John Eustace came in for Michael Keane and Jeff Hendrick. >