10:30 Monday 24 February 2014

Simon Dawkins and Conor Sammon inspired Derby County to Bournemouth victory: Steve McClaren

Written bySTEVE MCCLAREN

GAME CHANGER . . . Simon Dawkins was GAME CHANGER . . . Simon Dawkins was "excellent" after coming on for the second half against Bournemouth

STEVE McClaren saluted his game-changers after Derby County beat Bournemouth to stay in contention for automatic promotion.

Substitutes Simon Dawkins and Conor Sammon energised Derby in the second half of the Championship clash at the iPro Stadium.

The Rams had struggled first half and they were fortunate to be level at the break.

McClaren sent on Dawkins and Sammon for John Eustace and Patrick Bamford, and the subs provided a spark.

Derby improved and top scorer Chris Martin curled in a wonderful free kick five minutes from time to secure a 1-0 win.

“Simon Dawkins and Conor Sammon gave us energy,” said McClaren, whose team are third in the table and only two points adrift of the second automatic promotion slot occupied by Burnley.

And the two sides meet at Turf Moor on Saturday.

Dawkins had missed three games with a groin injury and McClaren was delighted to have the wide attacking player available again.

“Simon keeps the ball for us – we lost the ball too many times in the first half,” said McClaren.

“Simon goes on dribbles, he can take players on and he causes problems for defenders.

“You can give him the ball and you know he will not give it away.

“He made a difference. He is a great asset for us, I thought he was excellent.”

Sammon has had to be patient this season.

The striker has started just once in the Championship.

“Conor’s energy and movement hand others a bit more freedom,” said McClaren.

“One of the things we talked about when we arrived is the squad and a key thing is accepting your role in the team, and being patient.

“All the players have done that.

“Conor has had to be patient, so has Johnny Russell and Jeff Hendrick, and George Thorne now has to be patient.

“The players have all accepted it very well and that is why they are making a difference when they come on.”

The half-time changes saw Derby revert to 4-4-2 although it was 4-2-4 much of the time.

This meant Will Hughes and Jeff Hendrick were asked to grab hold of the central midfield area.

“I thought the two of them were tremendous in there,” said McClaren.

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