I always think that international breaks are blogging Valhalla as it’s the one time you can safely post to your hearts content, without a Rams game two days later or, more recently, a bit of DCFC internal drama to make your whole article irrelevant.
Whilst I always think this, I never really walk the talk so following the double header of U-23 games I went to before the Wolves game, here’s a quick update on the Rams next generation.
In similar articles, we have long touted Max Lowe as the best player in this group and the next one likely to properly make the jump to first team status. His performance in the first half of the Southampton game was ridiculously good and he also noticeably had an extra spring in his step. Maybe he knew he was only playing half a game. Anyway it’s great to see him in the first team and, I will put this out now, if he gets a decent run in the team, the West stand will soon be full of Top 6 premier league scouts.
Although operating in midfield, Charles Vernam looks sharp and very much like a man who knows where the goals is. He also seems to have bulked up a lot since last time I saw him. I am not sure whether he has the physicality to play midfield for the first team, but he could definitely play front 3 and certainly looked one of Derby’s brightest players in both games.Big Faz Rawson I like a lot. Strong, brave, decent on the ball for a big man and a good leader. However it’s tough to see a route to the first team for him, unless we sold Shackell. Fair play to him for holding out on his contract, because he is definitely good enough to play at least league 1 regularly. It would be nice if he was our third choice but I fear he may need to move on to progress.
Another who may need to move on is Mason Bennett. His work rate is great, his strength is still off the charts but he just doesn’t seem to have that X-factor anymore that he had a few years ago. He looks like a player who has played too many academy / development games and needs to get out in the real world. Again, it’s difficult to see how he is going to do that at DCFC, so it maybe time to ship him out or at least put him on a season loan.
Although he has had several first team cameos now, I haven’t actually seen a lot of Elsnik for the U-23’s. Against Southampton he played centre midfield with Vernam and looked a class act, floating by players seemingly without a lot of speed or effort. His goal was a cracking piece of skill and he was missed badly against Hull when he pulled out the game in the warm up.
An interesting player and a new face was Lewis Walker. Son of Des, brother of Tyler and signed last season from Ilkeston amongst fierce competition. I am not sure what his natural position is but he played wide right attack in both games. I have to say I didn’t see a lot here to get excited about at all, but hopefully he has more in the locker.
Finally a name to look out for and rapidly becoming my favourite player in the 23’s is right back Kyron Stabana. Although younger and a bit smaller than most of the group, he is fast, strong, skilful, tenacious and possesses an excellent habit of being involved in key moments at both ends of the pitch every time I see him. He’s already represented England at U-17 level so keep your eye on him because he is definitely coming through at some point. I would love to see a Rams first team one day with Max at left back and Kye on the right.
With the new ruggedized pitch at Pride Park, the excellent surroundings at St Georges and the sheer number of games these guys have to play this year, there is lots of chances to check out the 23’s this season. Invariably playing top opposition, I would definitely recommend anybody getting along to a few games.