KIERON Freeman is repaying the faith shown in him by Nigel Clough, says Derby County skipper Richard Keogh writes STEVE NICHOLSON.
Freeman has stepped in to the team following the sale of first-choice right-back John Brayford to Cardiff City.
The 21-year-old defender is set to start for a fourth successive league game when the Rams take on Yeovil Town at Huish Park today.
Keogh is full of praise for the way Freeman has handled the step up.
“Kieron’s come in and he’s done great,” said Keogh.
“He has been given a chance, the manager has put a lot of faith in him and I think Kieron has repaid that faith.”
Keogh says replacing Brayford is a big challenge for Freeman.
“He has had to step in to some big shoes because Bray moving on is a big loss,” said Keogh.
“It is going to hurt the team when you lose a player like Bray, but Kieron is his own man and player.
“If anything, I think it has been good for him to look at somebody like Bray and learn from him. Kieron’s enjoying his football.”
Freeman filled in when both Brayford and left-back Gareth Roberts were sidelined by injury last season.
His 20 appearances included 10 starts.
Four games at right-back was his best unbroken run of starts. Derby won three of those matches against Leicester City, Bristol City and Leeds United.
He is currently winning his battle with Adam Smith for the right-back position.
Smith’s one start this season since he arrived on a season-long loan from Tottenham Hotspur was in the Capital One Cup tie at Oldham.
Keogh believes one of the biggest change this season is the increase in competition for places.
“That is what the manager wanted,” said Keogh.
“Competition can only be good for the team because matches in the Championship come thick and fast, and so it is important to be able to freshen the team up.
“It also speaks volumes for what the manager has done here. He has brought in the right players, the right quality and characters.”