Derby must keep hold of Wayne Rooney’s rugrats in League One and they’ll be promoted back to Championship in no time

DERBY COUNTY will be playing League One football next season.

Even the legendary escape artist Harry Houdini himself would not have been able to keep the Rams in the Championship now.

Wayne Rooney celebrates victory over Fulham with teen striker Luke Plange

But there is no question the future will be bright at Pride Park if three things happen in the coming weeks: American businessman Chris Kirchner takes over the stricken club; Wayne Rooney commits to stay for another season; and they keep hold of an exceptionally talented group of kids.

Despite Rooney fielding FIVE teenagers and a total of NINE players aged 21 or under, Derby came from behind to beat runaway Championship leaders Fulham at a rocking Pride Park on Friday night.

And you have to say the Manchester United and England legend — who himself made his goalscoring Everton debut aged 16 — has been the perfect man to nurture this crop.

Derby have four games left and must win ALL of them to stand any chance.

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With Reading nine points in front, you have to say that is probably one big challenge too many for a team that would have stayed up comfortably without the 21-point deduction imposed on them by the EFL.

But if the club builds around the Rooney Babes, they will surely be back in the Championship very quickly.

And, there is every chance a more financially astute tilt at promotion to the Premier League can also be attempted.

So here I run the rule over their fledging kids.



UNFORTUNATELY, because Derby needed cash simply to get through the season, the 19-year-old striker is already a Crystal Palace player after he was sold during the January transfer window.

But he will barely get game-time at Palace next season, so maybe Derby can try to get him back on loan because surely he will play every week in League One for Roo.

He caused Fulham all end of  problems, scored the equaliser and put Tosin Adarabioyo under so much pressure he put past his own keeper for the winner.

Plange came through the youth ranks at Arsenal before being snapped up by the Rams.


DESPITE having not yet sat his GCSE exams, the 16-year-old Gibraltarian winger came on in the closing stages on Friday for his first-team debut.

He came through the youth system at Chelsea before having a short stint at West Ham, then signed for the Rams’ reserve side at the start of the season — and Rooney has been so impressed with his progress.

Richards has already been capped three times by Gibraltar’s Under-17 side.


THIS 19-year-old midfielder is mustard — and the club wants to tie him down to a new deal when his current one expires this summer.

He helped set up the equaliser against Fulham and can pick a pass.
That is no surprise when you consider his boyhood hero was Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta.

Premier League vultures will surely be circling this summer for this  midfield dynamo.

Liam Thompson has been a revelation for Derby County this season


ANOTHER brilliant kid who Derby need to get nailed down to a contract  . . . before it’s too late.

The importance of keeping him has been highlighted by  another Rams whizkid Festy Ebosele heading off to Udinese in the summer, having signed a pre-contract agreement.

Ebiowei, 18, an Arsenal academy product who spent 18 months at Rangers, has a mature head on his young shoulders and loves to take players on.


IRISH centre-half, 20, has been  brilliant since coming into the team and is learning by playing alongside a wise old head in 37-year-old Curtis Davies.

Level-headed with a great left foot, he gives the Rams nice balance.


LEFT-BACK is one of the older heads in the team at the ripe old age of 21!

He has already clocked up 55 games for Derby and the club will do very well to keep him this summer.

He has represented England at Under-19, U-20 and U-21 level, is composed and even likes taking the ball from his centre-backs to pick out the next pass.


WHEN a 21-year-old is trusted by Rooney (right) to sometimes captain Derby, you know he must have something about him.

Knight is just five games shy of 100 appearances.

He has great desire, an edge to his game and has bags of stamina.

21-yar-old Jason Knight has been captain material for Wayne Rooney’s Derby


STRONG and powerful, he is a player who is not afraid to mix it — and you would back him to win most physical duels.

The club have the 20-year-old contracted until 2024 but surely will want to get him tied down beyond that this summer, although that may be tough with the Rams playing their football in  League One.

Iron must press on

I WAS sad to see Scunthorpe’s 72 years in the EFL come to an end.

Tyrese Sinclair showed his despair after Good Friday’s defeat at Leyton Orient sealed their fate.

The Iron faces a massive summer now  because the National League is one hell of a tough division to get out of.

They need to build a very strong team to cope with the fifth tier — which is virtually as good as League Two — but without busting the bank.

Now the focus shifts to Oldham, founder members of the Premier League, who are also in huge danger.

What a travesty it would be if they went down. The mismanagement of that club has been an utter disgrace.

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Jones potshot

NATHAN JONES made me laugh talking about the performance of referee James Linington.

The hapless official handed out TWELVE yellow cards and a red during Luton’s 1-0 victory over Nottingham Forest at  Kenilworth Road on Friday.

Hatters boss Jones joked: “The referee was a bit trigger happy — at one point I think he booked two in the crowd!”

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Linington gave players’ schoolteacher-like lectures  and was pretty arrogant throughout.

Instead, he should have given a lecture to his linesman who raised his flag for offside to disallow Djed Spence’s perfectly fine goal for Forest. Shocking.


By: Jon Boon
Title: Derby must keep hold of Wayne Rooney’s rugrats in League One and they’ll be promoted back to Championship in no time
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Published Date: Sun, 17 Apr 2022 20:56:24 +0000

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