NIGEL Clough says that performances like Ben Davies’ against Bolton Wanderers are “symptomatic” of the nature of his squad, and show why Derby County are reluctant to bring in a loan signing who might disrupt that.
Former Notts County midfielder Davies stepped in at right-back after Kieron Freeman picked up an ankle injury in the 29th minute, and looked composed for the remaining hour or so, as well as adding an extra threat going forward.
Clough said: “He nearly played there (at right-back) on Saturday.
“It would have meant moving Kieron (Freeman) over to left-back and not giving Michael (Hoganson) an opportunity, and in the end we thought we would put people in their proper positions.
“He’s played a few games there at Notts County and he gave us a bit more impetus going forward.”
Davies has started just three league games this season due to the form of the likes of Paul Coutts, Craig Bryson and Michael Jacobs, but Clough had nothing but praise for the 31-year-old.
He said: “He is ready to come on at any minute, whether it’s the first or the last, and put in a performance.
“He comes in, out of position, works his socks off and does really well.
“But that is just symptomatic of the group.
“We ask them to play out of position, or play Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday, and if we asked them to play tomorrow, they would play.
“That’s the nature of the group, and that’s why we’re not sure about a loan, as attractive as it might be, because we don’t want anything that might jeopardise that.
“We don’t want someone to come in who might not be of the same attitude.”
However, Clough revealed that the club were still making enquiries about loans, with six defenders currently on the sidelines with injury or suspension.
He said: “We’ve been turned down with a couple we’ve really liked, but we’ve thrown some more names around this morning, had a bit of a brainstorm, and we’ll see if there’s anyone out there who might improve us.
“Whoever we bring in, won’t try any harder that the players who are here.”
Despite the threadbare nature of the squad on Tuesday night – with an attacking midfielder at right-back, a right-back at centre-half and a 19-year-old making only his second professional start at left-back – Derby restricted Bolton to a handful of chances, while having 22 shots themselves.
The Rams were desperately unlucky not to come away with all three points, as a combination of poor officiating and an excellent display from the Trotters’ flame-haired Hungarian keeper Adam Bogdan kept Derby at bay in the face of a second-half onslaught.
Clough said: “It was a good performance and we created a lot of chances.
“It sums up the last four games for us, in that we’ve got three points out of 12 when it could be nine or 10, easily.
“To lose our sixth defender and still restrict Bolton to the few opportunities we did, we can’t ask any more from the players.
“On paper it’s a bit of a mis-match, and then they’re very relieved to come away with a point having only had a handful of chances.
“And that’s a compliment to the way we play, especially at home.
“Bolton have been changing their strikers, and they’ve got Kevin Davies, (Marvin) Sordell, Craig Davies and (David) Ngog, whereas we’re using the same players.
“We’ve got 16-year-olds on the bench but we’re absolutely delighted.”