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Steve McClaren makes his mark on Derby County squad

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: September 02, 2014

By Steve Nicholson

NUMBERS GAME ... the arrival of the likes of striker Leon Best have added strength in depth to the Rams squad.

NUMBERS GAME ... the arrival of the likes of striker Leon Best have added strength in depth to the Rams squad.

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STEVE McClaren decided against putting new loan signing Jordon Ibe on the bench for the game against Ipswich Town.

Ibe, an 18-year-old winger of significant potential, arrived from Liverpool only on Friday, a little over 24 hours before the Ipswich fixture.

McClaren felt it was too soon to name the player in the squad but there is every chance he will feature against Nottingham Forest when the Championship resumes after the international break.

Ibe is the 19th different player (loan or permanent) signed by McClaren since he was appointed head coach 11 months ago.

The number is a clear indication of how the club has pushed the boat out further in moulding what is now considered to be one of the strongest squads in the Championship.

A number of the new faces have strengthened the under-21 development group in order to bridge the gap between that and the first team.

The early signs are promising, as we saw in the contributions of Ivan Calero and Alefe Santos in the Capital One Cup defeat of Charlton Athletic.

Also added to the club's outlay are the new contracts handed to Craig Bryson, Chris Martin, Jeff Hendrick, Will Hughes, Jamie Ward, Craig Forsyth and Jake Buxton.

The capture of George Thorne from West Bromwich Albion in a permanent deal was also a hefty statement.

Asked if the make-up of the first-team and under-21 squads points to a bigger investment by the ownership group, chief executive Sam Rush replied: "It would be fair to say that, absolutely.

"It has been a busy summer, but the investment of the ownership group has been significant for some time.

"The finance we are seeing now is not insignificant and certainly sits very well among our competitors in our league."

The story of how the squad has evolved since McClaren replaced Nigel Clough can be told by highlighting the strength of the current substitutes' bench.

McClaren sat in the directors' box on the night of October 1 last year as Derby stormed back to draw 4-4 against Ipswich.

It was his first look at the team he had inherited, and the squad.

The bench was inexperienced. The seven substitutes included 17-year-olds Mason Bennett and Jamie Hanson as well as Max Lowe, who was 16.

The other substitutes were young winger Michael Jacobs, Johnny Russell, John Eustace and goalkeeper Saul Deeney.

Fast forward to Saturday's meeting with the same opponents, Ipswich Town, and the bench had an entirely different, and significantly more formidable look to it.

Three of the players – Ryan Shoton, Leon Best and Zak Whitbread – have Premier League experience.

Will Hughes was also sat there along with Omar Mascarell, the midfielder from Real Madrid, Simon Dawkins and keeper Kelle Roos.

Despite the investment, Derby say they continue to comply with Financial Fair Play (FFP) guidelines.

"It is an onus on myself and the ownership group that we run the team and the club sensibly while giving Steve McClaren the resources he requires," said Rush.

"That is the classic conundrum in a football club, it is a very difficult balancing act.

"Ultimately you are judged on the field with how well your team performs and judged off the field in terms of the business that you run.

"Football has a different set of economics but we certainly need to make sure that both on and off the field we are competitive."

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