September 27, 2021

Rooney: I won’t walk but Derby must make signings

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Wayne Rooney says he will not walk away from his role as Derby County boss but warned the club it would be “impossible” for him to field a team for the start of the new Sky Bet Championship season without significant signings.

Derby were cleared to sign new players for the upcoming Championship season earlier this week after the EFL altered its rules due to “exceptional circumstances” caused by the club’s coronavirus outbreak last season.

The club are under an EFL transfer embargo that prevents them making permanent signings from other clubs but would ordinarily be able to sign free agents on 12-month contracts or make six-month loan signings if they have less than 23 players of a ‘professional standing’.

Derby currently only has nine registered senior players, two of whom are goalkeepers.

Rooney vowed not to walk away from the role despite the difficult circumstances, but urged club chiefs to move quickly to make signings before Derby begin their Championship season against Huddersfield Town on August 7.

“It’s other people which I can’t control who need to make bigger decisions that I do,” Rooney told Sky Sports News.

Phil Jagielka is one of several free agents Derby can now sign (PA)
Image: Phil Jagielka is one of several free agents who played for Derby in pre-season and could be signed before the new season

“All I can do is try to bring some dignity and pride back to this club. It is clear that has gone in the last few years and it is my job to bring that back. I need other people to do their job.

“It’s not ideal, it has been very difficult not knowing what my squad will be in two weeks’ time when the league starts. However we can, we need to get that sorted.

“If I am being honest, it would be easy for a manager in my situation to walk away. It’s a challenge for me, I’m a fighter. I am grateful to Derby for giving me this opportunity and I will do everything I can to get the club through this.

“If we can’t bring players in over the next two weeks I do not know how we field a team to start the season.

“I haven’t got one centre-back signed to the club, there are two very young players in the U23s and U18s. It would be impossible for me to field a team.”

Free agents Tom Carroll, Phil Jagielka, Sone Aluko, Ravel Morrison all started in Derby’s pre-season 2-1 friendly loss against Salford City on Saturday and could join the club ahead of the new season.

Free agents Andre Wisdom, Ryan Allsop, Richard Stearman and Sam Baldock were all named on the bench.