NIGEL Clough says Derby County defender Jake Buxton has developed into a proven Championship centre back.
And the form of Buxton alongside skipper Richard Keogh is one of the reasons Clough has decided against bringing in another central defender, despite Shaun Barker and Mark O’Brien being sidelined.
The Rams manager will move in the loan market should either of the first-choice pairing pick up an injury.
Buxton joined Derby on a free transfer from Burton Albion in 2009 and he has made 86 appearances. The total would have been higher but for a lengthy spell out injured.
The 28-year-old has started all six matches this season and Clough is pleased with him and Keogh.
“It is one of the reasons we haven’t gone in for a centre back to sit on the bench because we are very happy with them,” said Clough.
“The two centre-halves and the goalkeeper, that trio, that triangle, is very important to us.”
Derby have kept three clean sheets in six matches.
Of the three goals conceded, one was a freak own goal in the 1-0 home defeat by Leicester City and another came in the final minute of the opening league fixture against Blackburn Rovers.
Buxton has played his part.
“Jake just has to keep doing what he is doing consistently,” said Clough. “He has to keep playing to his strengths and his limitations as well, and the nice thing is he knows what they are.
“I think he has headed the ball this season better than he has done in previous seasons.
“For somebody who is not 6ft 2ins or 6ft 3ins, I think his heading has been tremendous this season.
“He doesn’t have to do any more to prove he is a Championship centre half.”
Central defenders Barker and O’Brien are recovering from knee surgery.