06:00 Tuesday 28 January 2014

Steve McClaren considers shuffling his pack as Derby County host Yeovil

Written bySTEVE NICHOLSON

HEAD coach Steve McClaren has his eye on Derby County’s energy levels as he mulls over his team to face Yeovil tonight.

The Rams gained a point in a hard-fought draw away to Blackburn Rovers at the weekend and they take on Birmingham City at St Andrew’s on Saturday to complete three games in eight days.

McClaren says players’ energy levels can dip in the second half of the season, especially forwards and midfielders, and hinted that he could freshen the team up when Yeovil visit the iPro Stadium, kick-off 7.45pm.

The likes of Patrick Bamford, Johnny Russell and Conor Sammon are eagerly waiting for a start.

Bamford hit crucial goals coming off the bench in the last two matches. The striker, on loan from Chelsea, scored the winner in the last home game against Brighton and struck a late equaliser at Blackburn.

Russell has recovered from a fractured cheekbone suffered in the New Year’s Day defeat by Wigan Athletic and Sammon has impressed as a substitute.

The Republic of Ireland international has come off the bench in 15 of the last 18 matches but has started just once in the League this season.

Simon Dawkins, top scorer Chris Martin and Jamie Ward have been Derby’s front three for most of McClaren’s four months in charge.

Asked how tempted he is to make changes, McClaren said: “I think a lot of it is about energy the second half of the season.

“You go along in the first half of the season, then there is the Christmas period and after that you see the form of certain players dip because naturally you cannot keep that level of performance throughout the season.

“Players are going to dip. Usually it is midfield players and front players.

“I think your back four, your defenders, are quite solid all the way through the season but for forwards especially to keep the energy levels high is very difficult.

“We are fortunate in that we start with Simon Dawkins and Jamie Ward, and we have Johnny Russell, Patrick Bamford and Conor Sammon.

“We have got energy on the bench and sometimes we will need that energy to start and to change things around a little bit.

“Players understand that it is a squad game and not necessarily about the first 11.”

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