06:00 Tuesday 21 January 2014

Johnny Russell and Andrew Wisdom hand Derby County boss Steve McClaren a double fitness boost

Written bySTEVE NICHOLSON

DEvw20140118E-064_C.JPG Picture: Victoria WilcoxDerby County DCFC v Brighton & Hove Albion at the iPro stadium in DerbyHead coach Steve McClaren talks to the press after the match DEvw20140118E-064_C.JPG Picture: Victoria WilcoxDerby County DCFC v Brighton & Hove Albion at the iPro stadium in DerbyHead coach Steve McClaren talks to the press after the match

JOHNNY Russell and Andre Wisdom have handed Derby County a double boost.

Russell has been given the all-clear to train and play after fracturing his cheekbone against Wigan Athletic on New Year’s Day.

The Scottish striker is expected to be available for the squad when the Rams take on Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park on Saturday.

And Wisdom is also expected to be fit.

A tight hamstring forced the right-back to be replaced after 73 minutes of the victory over Brighton at the weekend but the 20-year-old was due to train today.

Russell has missed the last three games.

Whether or not he trains and plays in a protective mask is his decision and his quick recovery boosts the options available to head coach Steve McClaren.

Russell can play in a wide role or up front.

Competition for the wide positions is hotting up. He joins Jamie Ward, Simon Dawkins, Patrick Bamford and Mason Bennett in the battle for two places.

“We are delight to see Johnny back,” said goalkeeper coach Eric Steele.

“What a great time to have him coming back. He’s another option for the head coach because Johnny can play wide or in behind the front man, he is another option either to start or come off the bench.

“The specialist is more than happy with the way Johnny’s cheekbone has healed.

“Whether he wears the mask to play will be down to him, what he’s comfortable with, but he’s available and ready for selection to go to Blackburn.”

Wisdom has been ever-present since he signed on loan from Liverpool.

He handed Derby an injury scare on Saturday but Steele says the defender should be fit to face Blackburn.

“Andre is okay, he had no reaction over the weekend,” Steele said.

“He was sensible in terms of he felt he might have tweaked a hamstring and quite rightly he put his hand up. He did not want to make it worse.

“He should be back in training today.

“There are one or two others with knocks as you would expect at this time of the season.

“Jake Buxton is nursing a little knock and Patrick Bamford took a knock when he scored the goal but we expect them all to be back in full training.”

DERBY County’s home match against rivals Nottingham Forest has been selected for live television coverage.

The East Midlands derby at the iPro Stadium on Saturday, March 22, will be shown on Sky Sports.

As a result, the game will kick off at the earlier time of 12.15pm.

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