FANS COLUMN: More departures needed before Derby County can make signings

Duane Holmes shoots on goal against Southampton.
Duane Holmes shoots on goal against Southampton.

It was FA Cup third round time at Pride Park on Saturday and Derby staged another comeback to keep alive their hopes of making progress.

Despite going down 2-0 they fought back bravely to take Southampton to a replay in a week's time.

Tom Lawrence, making a return to the team, was involved in both goals. Firstly he laid a ball off for Jack Marriott to convert his tenth goal of the season and then hit a fine effort himself for the equaliser. The winners of the replay will make a trip to Accrington Stanley in the fourth round.

There was some activity off the pitch too. Alex Pearce has joined Millwall on loan until the end of the season and that will spell the end of his time as a Derby County player. Pearce has had only a bit part to play in first team affairs since he was signed from Reading in the summer of 2015.

He actually went out on loan in his first season before replacing Jason Shackell under Nigel Pearson. Whatever one's opinion of Pearce, he is well respected by many people from the local media and his professionalism has been praised by Frank Lampard.

George Thorne has gone to Luton Town on loan for the remainder of this season and will be hoping to get his career back on track. He was signed by Steve McClaren during his first spell as manager after a very impressive loan spell during the last play-off final season. He tore his ACL in the following pre-season and has struggled with injuries ever since. He was clearly lacking full fitness last season and has found himself frozen out this season. Perhaps this will be a golden opportunity for him to make a fresh start and either come back more like his old self or earn a permanent move elsewhere.

There have been no incomings apart from Max Lowe returning from a successful loan spell with Aberdeen, but that is no surprise to most. There must be plenty of outgoings before there are any incomings and they are likely to be minimal and loans.

Birmingham are said to be interested in Ikechi Anya and Hull City in Jacob Butterfield, but it's all rumours and speculation at the moment.

The January window can help teams with that final promotion push, but we Rams fans will have to be patient and hope that we can replicate the points return from the first half of the season. We have a very tough fixture on Friday night in front of the TV cameras as we visit Elland Road.

Leeds haven’t a good record against us over the past decade or so, but they more than made up for it earlier this season by spanking us 4-1 at Pride Park. I have said it once and I’ll say it again, a result up there sends out a real message of intent.

Finally, a year ago Gary Rowett had signed a new contract with Derby stating he was here for the long haul. The rest is history and he was dismissed on Tuesday by Stoke.

The riches were there for him to spend and he has failed to make that count. Expectedly there was little sympathy from Derby County supporters. The lesson here being that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. The icing on the cake would be for Frank Lampard to lead us into the play-offs, but there’s still so much work ahead.