14th – Stephen Warnock
Behind window number 14 is Derby’s warrior left back Stephen Warnock.
After a tortuous start to his Derby career, Warnock is currently one of the most consistent and reliable performers in the Rams team.
It’s an interesting comparison between our current first choice full backs. Although one is coming to the end of his career and the other is just starting out, both have trodden remarkably similar paths at DCFC.
Both had a very hard time in the second half of last season and were pretty much filed by most Rams fans as not good enough and surplus to requirements. At least with Cyrus we had seen glimpses of what he could do but Warnock didn’t even get that far – being sent off in the first half of his debut against Reading in the cup and never really getting past that.
Warnock signed in last year’s January window as cover for Fozzy but was himself just coming back from an injury lay off. His initial lack of fitness, game time and subsequent suspension meant he never got going. When he did, a combination of trying too hard, whilst still being off the pace, did him no favours as part of a generally shambolic back-line who got little or no protection from anyone in midfield.
With a good pre-season under his belt and Clement generally preferring him away from home when there is defending to do, he was already having a solid campaign. Since Fozzy’s injury, he has been immense.
Whilst by no means a reckless or overly aggressive player, he seems to get the shit kicked out of him every game. However he generally battles on until he literally can’t run anymore or doesn’t know what day it is (which has happened a few times!). His experience and communication is there for all to see and he rarely gets skinned even by players far faster than him.
There are more than a few players in the current Rams team who have been bought back from the brink by Clement, but surely there is no example as extreme as Warnock.
I think we will probably sign a left back in January to help him out, but that guy is going to have to be some player to send Warnock back to the bench.
WARNING – Esoteric Game of Thrones reference alert.