Derby County face tough battle for play-off spot, says our Rams columnist Andy Buckley-Taylor

Craig Bryson should be allowed to leave in the summer, says Andy Buckley-Taylor.
Craig Bryson should be allowed to leave in the summer, says Andy Buckley-Taylor.

After last week's 6-1 thrashing of Rotherham, the Rams came crashing back down to earth with a draw and a loss in the two away fixtures at Brentford and Blackburn.

The match at Brentford saw Derby get stuck into their hosts and lead the game three times only for the Bees to cancel out every time. It wasn’t a bad performance and it was at a venue where we don’t usually pick up many points.

The away fixture on Tuesday night was in contrast a very poor performance from the team and Blackburn were very good value for their win. They could have won it by four or five and we would have had no reason whatsoever to complain. The team simply failed to show up and our play-off hopes now are fast fading away with Bristol City and Aston Villa both now edging into the distance.

Derby have many players out of contract in the summer and for me Tom Huddlestone looks like the only one who will wear the white shirt next season. There had been some suggestion that Bradley Johnson or Craig Bryson might be offered another year, but on that showing at Ewood Park I would hazard a guess that both will soon be heading into the departure lounge at Pride Park.

Craig Bryson has been a very good servant to the club and at his peak was a key player for the team. No one will forego his 16 league goals in the last Wembley season. It still baffles many why Steve McClaren left him out of the starting line up that day.

Bradley Johnson has been a major disappointment overall. He was a big money signing by Paul Clement after having a brilliant season for Norwich City as they clinched promotion to the Premier League. He has never recaptured that form for Derby and it would be a big surprise to many if he was offered the chance to extend his stay at the club.

I think that it's fair to say Alex Pearce and Jacob Butterfield have already played their last games and Marcus Olsson will probably be let go having spent the whole of the season on the injury list.

Kelle Roos is also a free agent in the summer and although it has been reported that he has been offered a new contract, other clubs have shown an interest in him. In my opinion it wouldn’t be a massive blow if he moved on. Scott Carson for me is our number one though I would like to see a new signing to compete for that spot on the team.

Derby host struggling Bolton on Saturday and then take a trip to St Andrews to face Birmingham on Good Friday. The intentions now must be to get as many points as possible just in case any of those above us slip up and also to ensure that we don’t slip down to mid-table. We are only four points ahead of 14th place and to plummet down to that level really would put a downer on the season.