09:00 Wednesday 18 December 2013

Paul Simpson makes case for the defence despite Derby County's prolific scoring record

Written bySTEVE NICHOLSON

WITH 42 in 20 games, Derby County are the hottest ticket in town when it comes to goals in the Championship.

They have scored 10 more than both Leicester City and Leeds United, 11 more than Burnley for whom Danny Ings is in top form, and 13 more than rivals Nottingham Forest.

Goals catch the eye, and Derby have hit both Millwall and Blackpool for five this season, as well as League One outfit Brentford in the Capital One Cup.

Rams’ first team coach Paul Simpson knows a thing or two about creating and scoring goals.

Simpson was a winger with an immaculate left foot in his playing days.

He scored 57 goals in 225 games for Derby including hat tricks against Tranmere Rovers, Portsmouth and Bristol City.

When asked for his thoughts on the current firepower in Derby’s team, Simpson raised a few eyebrows when he quickly turned the subject to the defending!

“I know this sounds odd coming from me, who as a player was solely intent on getting an creating goals, but the biggest thing for me is the goals’ against column,” he said. “We have managed to tidy up the goals’ against column a little bit.”

Three clean sheets in the last six matches and three goals conceded has boosted the Rams’ goal difference.

Only Burnley, with plus 17, have a better goal difference than Derby’s plus 16.

Leaders Queen’s Park Rangers are on plus 14, Leicester City (+10), Leeds United (+9) and Reading, Forest and Brighton (+7).

Derby have tightened up defensively. “We are delighted for the whole team that they got another clean sheet in the win at Charlton,” Simpson said.

“I know goalkeepers and the back four get the credit, but that is a bit unfair on the likes of John Eustace and the midfielders, and also striker Chris Martin who does a great job for us as that first man in defedning set pieces.”

The subject returned to Derby’s goals’ tally, and Simpson stressed the importance of goals from all departments of the team.

“You need goals from all over the team,” Simpson said.

“I was delighted the other week when Richard Keogh got himself a goal. Craig Bryson is getting goals for us, Jamie Ward is chipping in with his share, Johnny Russell will score goals when he gets a regular run of games, and Chris Martin has been excellent.

“We need to keep them all firing, all getting goals.

“I would like the full backs to start chipping in with a few goals, but may be that is me being a bit greedy!”

Neither left back Craig Forsyth nor right back Andre Wisdom have found the net, as yet.

Martin is top scorer with 13 followed by Bryson (nine), Ward (six) and Russell (five).

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