DERBY County could hand a debut to new signing Craig Forsyth tomorrow after loaning the midfielder from Championship rivals Watford in the wake of news that top scorer Jamie Ward could be out for the rest of the season.
Forsyth, 24, who can play at left back as well as in his favoured left wing role, has joined for an initial month after failing to break into the starting XI at the high-flying Hornets.
The Carnoustie-born player, who began his career at Dundee and scored the winning goal in the 2009 Challenge Cup final, will go straight into the squad for the Rams’ game at Cardiff City tomorrow, kick-off 7.45pm, subject to the deal being ratified by the Football League this morning.
Boss Nigel Clough said: “Craig is someone we’ve been aware of for a while and we’ve been impressed whenever we’ve seen him in action, so it’ll be good to have a look at him a little more closely.
“The injuries we’ve picked up of late have obviously been frustrating, but it’s presented us with a chance to bring Craig in.
“We’ve got options up front, despite Jamie Ward’s injury, with Conor Sammon, Chris Martin, Michael Jacobs and Mason Bennett, but we’ve been left a little bit short in midfield – so Craig’s arrival certainly strengthens that area.”
He could be a straight replacement for Northern Ireland forward Ward, 26, who has found the net 10 times in his last 13 Championship games, but picked up a hamstring problem towards the end of the first half of Friday night’s 1-0 defeat at home to Crystal Palace.
Ward was set to have a scan on the injury yesterday and will almost certainly both the trip to Wales and Saturday’s game at Birmingham City.
Clough hopes the knock is not as bad as first thought, but admitted that they had been in this position before with the former Sheffield United man, who tore his hamstring at the end of September.
He said: “We’re hoping to get him back on the pitch some time this season.
“It doesn’t feel too bad, but of course, that’s what we said last time and he missed three months.
“He’s walking around, and usually if they’re really severe you really feel them when you’re walking.
“It’s not too bad from that point of view, it’s just his history.”
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Despite strengthening his side, Clough insists he has faith in the forward options which remain at his disposal, with Jacobs impressing in spells after coming on for Ward on Friday, while Sammon and Martin showing some promise in their first game together as a front two.
On Martin, Clough said: “I thought he showed good signs, and he’s the sort of player we’ve been looking for.
“He plays just off a main striker, comes and receives the ball and holds it up well.
“He just needs a few games to get up to speed but from what we’ve seen we know he could fit in with us.
“Michael Jacobs came on and picked up where Jamie left off, attacking them and putting crosses in.”
Sammon, who missed a late penalty against Palace, has had some criticism from the Pride Park crowds.
But Clough said: “He doesn’t hide, he’s always looking for the ball, always chasing.
“Then he gives it away, but that’s what we tell the lads - if you give it away, go and get it again.
“He fits into that category, and he had the nerve to stand up and take a penalty in the 88th minute.
“All strikers need goals, and he hasn’t got enough this season, so he has to keep getting himself into those positions.”
Meanwhile, despite having suffered a second defeat in three games, Clough says Cardiff pose a considerable threat, and has backed them to win one of the coveted and lucrative spots in the Premier League next season.
He said: “Cardiff are top of the league for a reason, although they had a setback at Middlesbrough.
“They’ve got a five-point lead, and I don’t think Malky (Mackay, Cardiff boss) will want it to get too much shorter than that.
“I think the acquisitions they made in the summer and in January mean they’ll be in one of the two automatic spots.”