JOHNNY Russell’s broken leg is the biggest blow of Steve McClaren’s first few weeks in charge at Derby County and the head coach has hinted that the Scot’s injury could open the door for Mason Bennett.
Russell could be out for up to six weeks after he fractured the fibula in his left leg in the Rams’ victory over Leeds United two weeks ago.
The striker played on the right of a 4-3-3 formation against Leeds and McClaren must now decided who fills the position at Watford tomorrow – and Bennett has impressed him.
The 17-year-old has yet to start a first-team game this season but was in hot form for England under-19s during the international break.
Bennett scored three goals in two starts against Andorra and Switzerland, and also appeared as a substitute in the draw with Slovenia.
His goals helped to fire England to the elite qualifying round of the European Championships.
“The big blow for me is Johnny Russell breaking his leg,” said McClaren.
“He looked fantastic in the game against Leeds and I could see the trio of Chris Martin, Russell and Jamie Ward working, with the midfield behind them.”
On Bennett’s chances of starting this weekend, McClaren said: “We spoke to the England Under-19 manager, Noel Blake, who said Mason was a good boy with a good attitude, and a big talent who played very well in either position on the right or the left.
“So we are encouraged by that, and it was what we had seen in the week we had Mason before he went away with England.
“He also got some goals for England. That is what he has to do, he has got to score, and that goes for all the strikers. That is their job, and so to see him doing it at that level is good.
“When I came here to Derby they talked about Mason being a big talent.
“We have seen that and it has been evident with his performances for England.
“He is in the squad for Saturday and could play.
“Johnny is on track recovery wise but it will not be in time for Saturday!
“That might give Mason a chance to do something.”