06:00 Friday 20 December 2013

Derby County's Chris Martin in race against time to be fit for Doncaster clash

Written byCHRIS WATSON

DELS20131109E-040_C.JPG Picture: Lucy Shaw.Derby County v Sheffield Wednesday 3-0.Picture shows Derby County player Chris Martin DELS20131109E-040_C.JPG Picture: Lucy Shaw.Derby County v Sheffield Wednesday 3-0.Picture shows Derby County player Chris Martin

DERBY County leading scorer Chris Martin is battling to be fit to face Doncaster Rovers this weekend.

The striker picked up an injury in training this week and the Rams are waiting on his fitness ahead of tomorrow’s Championship encounter at the iPro Stadium, kick-off 3pm.

Martin, who has 13 goals in 23 appearances this season, was unable to train yesterday.

“He got a kick on the shin in training and it caught the nerve in a bad spot,” said Derby head coach Steve McClaren.

“He didn’t train on Thursday but will hopefully be able to today.

“He’ll have had a couple of days off, so we’ll see how it is.”

Martin has not missed a game this term and has started every league fixture following his summer move from Norwich City.

“You need a focal point to your team and Chris has been providing that for us,” said McClaren.

“He’s a good player. He can handle the ball well, is good with his back to goal and brings others into play, which is key.

“He does a lot of good work, offensively and defensively.”

McClaren will be hoping Martin recovers in time for the Doncaster game, while England Under-21 midfielder Will Hughes is set to return to the squad.

Hughes missed last Saturday’s 2-0 win at Charlton Athletic due to illness.

“Will came back in on Tuesday, trained a little on Wednesday and joined in with the group on Thursday,” said McClaren.

“He looks okay and he should be stronger still with each day.”

Jeff Hendrick replaced Hughes at Charlton and completed his first 90

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minutes of senior football since August, having recovered from an ankle injury.

“I’d seen a little bit of Jeff before I came in but I’m excited to see him play more, because I’ve heard a lot about him,” said McClaren.

“He did well in Will’s place last weekend. He’s got great potential and I’ve seen that.

“What we’ve not had to do is rush Jeff back, which is great.

“We’ve allowed him to ease his way back in, by getting a few development games and some minutes in the first team.

“He got a full 90 last week and should be ready now.”

On-loan defender Zak Whitbread, meanwhile, continues to work his way back from a calf injury that has kept him out of action since September.

“He has trained again this week and is looking better,” said McClaren.

Fourth-placed Derby are looking for a seventh successive league victory – something the club last achieved in the promotion-winning season of 1995-96.

Doncaster are fifth from bottom of the table, three points off the drop zone.

They beat leaders Queen’s Park Rangers at the end of last month but are without a win in three since.

Rovers have lost their last two games 3-0 - away to Bolton Wanderers and at home to Leeds United.

They have won only once on the road this season, scoring six times in 10 away outings.

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