NIGEL Clough admits Derby County striker Conor Sammon is having a tough time — but has backed his man to come good.
The 26-year-old was poor in the last two matches as the Rams lost 2-1 at Millwall and 3-0 at Crystal Palace.
He has netted only twice in 16 appearances since signing from Wigan Athletic for £1.2 million.
However, the big targetman proved his all-round game is about more than goals before a recent dip in form
“The only thing to defend him is it’s the first time he’s played regular football for 18 months, so you are going to get that inconsistency,” said Clough.
“The ball is bouncing off him a bit too much at the moment.
“There’s no lack of effort there — I thought he competed well in the air at Palace.
“He won a few flicks which Craig Bryson did not quite get on the end of.
“I think Conor is trying his socks off.
“Maybe we should’ve given him 10 minutes with Theo (Robinson) alongside him before he came off.
“Then the third goal went in, and you don’t want to lose four or five.”
Bryson started just off Sammon on Saturday in an attacking midfield role and it did not really work as Derby struggled to break down the hosts.
Will Hughes, the club’s most talented midfielder, who has now been linked with £10 million moves to Barcelona and Real Madrid, could start in an advanced role.
However, Clough wants his best passer of the ball to sit deeper and start moves off.
“He can do either, but I think his most important role at the moment is to get us on the ball and get us started,” said the Rams boss. “I think Craig Bryson can join in further forward.
“We were looking to get Will and Jeff (Hendrick) on the ball to get us started and there were little bits of play, but Mile
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Jedinak broke up so much in front of the back four, he kept Bryson quiet in that little hole.
“I think Will has to play where he did to get the ball off the centre-halves and get us going, which he has done this season.
“He found it a step up today, Will did.
“He said Palace were a yard sharper than he had come up against this season.
“His little passes round corners got cut out and so it was a step up for him.”