DERBY County hope to have up to half a dozen players back from injury later this month.
Striker Johnny Russell, midfielders Jeff Hendrick and James Bailey, defenders Zak Whitbread and Mark O’Brien, as well as goalkeeper Adam Legzdins, are working their way back to fitness.
“We could have a number back in two or three weeks – they will be like new signings for me,” said head coach Steve McClaren.
Derby face Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road today, kick-off 3pm, and Sheffield Wednesday at Pride Park in a week’s time before a two-week international break.
McClaren hopes the squad will be boosted in numbers by the time the Rams head to the south coast to play Bournemouth on Saturday, November 23.
“I’m hoping the squad will look far better, bigger and stronger in two or three weeks,” he said.
Russell is recovering from a fractured fibula in his left leg. He suffered the injury late on in the home victory over Leeds United four weeks ago.
Hendrick has been out since undergoing ankle surgery following the win at Yeovil Town on August 24 and Bailey has been sidlined by a knee problem.
Whitbread missed the draw against Birmingham City a week ago with a calf strain he picked up in the win at Watford and Legzdins was expected to be out two months after an operation at the end of September to repair ruptured ankle ligaments.
O’Brien has been a long-term absentee due to a knee injury. His last game was in the 3-0 home victory over Huddersfield Town in February.
“I look at the medical report and it is saying the likes of Hendrick, Russell, O’Brien, Bailey and Whitbread will be back,” said McClaren.
“So I am looking forward to that – and we need it, because the squad is short.
“I have not seen some of these players play.”
Ben Davies is close to fitness. The midfielder, a substitute for much of the season, has missed the last two matches with a calf problem but he could be available for the Sheffield Wednesday fixture.
McClaren has hinted that more loan signings are unlikely, with players on their way back.
“I said when I came in that I wanted to look at the players and the squad,” he said.
“We had to bring Simon Dawkins in because Johnny Russell broke his leg. We had to bring in Zak Whitbread because Richard Keogh got suspended and then we had to bring in Andre Wisdom because Whitbread got injured.
“The players we have brought in have been necessary but I am happy with what we have got.”
HARRY Redknapp has tipped Derby midfielder Will Hughes for the top.
Hughes is set to line up against Redknapp’s Rangers at Loftus Road in the Championship today.
The 18-year-old’s progress has impressed Redknapp, the former Tottenham boss.
“Hughes is a good player and he’s going to be a big player,” said Redknapp.
“He’s young and he’s got the ability to go all the way to the top. He’s a really good player for the future, for a top Premier League club.”
England Under-21 international Hughes, was a regular in Derby’s team last season and he has started all of their league games this term.
Redknapp says he has also been impressed by Derby.
“They’ve got some fantastic young players and they’ve taken Andre Wisdom on loan, who I think has got an excellent future,” he said.