09:30 Saturday 21 December 2013

Derby midfielder Craig Bryson is Championship's most influential player: Barker

Written byCHRIS WATSON

SIMPLY THE BEST . . . Derby County midfielder Craig Bryson SIMPLY THE BEST . . . Derby County midfielder Craig Bryson

CRAIG Bryson can stake a claim to be the Championship’s most influential player at present, according to Derby County’s club captain Shaun Barker.

Bryson is enjoying his best season in English football since signing for Derby from Scottish Pemier League club Kilmarnock in 2011.

The 27-year-old midfielder has started all 20 league games and has nine goals as well as seven assists.

No midfielder in the Championship has scored more – and only Ipswich Town left back Aaron Cresswell can top Bryson when it comes to assists.

Barker, who is working his way back from a serious knee injury, is not surprised by Bryson’s form and goals’ tally.

He said: “Brys has always been capable of scoring this many goals.

“I thought he could have scored more goals in the last two seasons given how many times he gets in the box.

“It is not just the goals, but the type of goals he is scoring.

“Before this season the vast majority of his goals came from close range.

“Poacher’s goals – him arriving late in the area to score.

“This season we have seen some top-quality finishes from him from outside the box.

“In the three seasons he has been at Derby he has probably been our most consistent player.

“When John Brayford was here it was a close call between him and Brys as to who was our most consistent player.

“Given his number of goals and assists, there is probably not a more influential player in this division at the moment than Brys.

“He deserves all the plaudits because he works so hard in training and matches.

“He works his socks off to get around the pitch and help the team.”

Bryson’s career record with Derby is 107 appearances and 20 goals.

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