DERBY County first-team coach Paul Simpson says Michael Keane showed against Blackpool that he can step into the team if called on, but that the on-loan defender will have to bide his time.
Keane made his Rams debut as a substitute in Saturday’s victory over Blackpool, but the 20-year-old Manchester United player is having to be patient for a start due to the form of centre backs Richard Keogh and Jake Buxton.
Derby have conceded only three goals in their last five games, and much of this has been down to the back four.
Keane has Championship experience from his loan spell at Leicester City last season, and is with Derby until January – although there is a chance the deal can be extended.
A busy schedule of five matches in 19 days, starting against Charlton Athletic at The Valley tomorrow, kick-off 3pm, is likely to see Derby utilising their squad.
“There is every chance Michael is going to be needed and that is the reason we brought him in to the club,” said Simpson.
“He is a really good option to have.”
“The way the two centre halves have been performing – they have been outstanding for me the way they have gone about their business – it has been difficult for Michael to get in.”
Keane replaced Buxton after 73 minutes against Blackpool with Derby leading 4-1 against 10 men.
“We had put the Blackpool game to bed and so it was a good opportunity to give Michael 20 minutes.
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“I thought he looked very good on the ball and he could have got himself a goal.
“That will do him the world of good and if he is needed further down the line, he knows what to expect.”
Derby finished the Blackpool game with three current England Under-21 internationals on the pitch in Keane, midfielder Will Hughes and right back Andre Wisdom.