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Assessing the candidates for the Derby County Player of the season.

Thursday 27th April 2017
Going into the final two fixtures of the season, The Rams have nothing left to play for. Reaching sixth place is now mathematically impossible for the club, which is a position they haven't been in at this stage of the campaign since the 2012-13 season. Despite this disappointment, there have been a fair few stand-out performers for Derby, but who will become the Derby County Player of the season for 2016-17?

Scott Carson

Carson has established himself as Derby's number one after a somewhat slow start to his Rams' career last season. The consistency shown by Carson this season is highlighted by former first-choice goalkeeper Lee Grant being deemed as surplus to requirements, as a result joining Premier League outfit Stoke City on loan; before subsequently signing permanently for The Potters.

Though Carson may not be the flashiest or most acrobatic goalkeeper in the division, his presence and handling cannot be understated. Furthermore, Carson has rarely looked shaky between the sticks this season, which is a trait Derby fans have been yearning for in their number one since the days of Mart Poom. Carson's steadiness is emphasised by the impressive 17 clean sheets he has currently amassed this campaign; second only to Brighton's David Stockdale.

Alex Pearce

Pearce is another player whose Derby career got off to something of a slow start, although arguably through no fault of his own. Pearce was signed ahead of the 2015-16 season when Paul Clement was the club's head coach and he was immediately benched before heading out on loan to Reading midway through the season. It is a testament to Pearce's commitment and professionalism that he was able to return to the club and ultimately the starting eleven this season in place of a £3m defender in Jason Shackell. In doing so, Pearce has built a solid partnership with club captain Richard Keogh (winner of last season's award) and has arguably outperformed his centre-back partner in the process.

Pearce may not be as comfortable with the ball at his feet as Keogh is, however his instinctive nature of defending first and foremost has been invaluable to The Rams on numerous occasions this season. Thus, one of Pearce's most useful qualities has been his ability to win aerial duels. The defensive solidity of Pearce is highlighted by the fact Derby currently boasts the fifth best defensive record in the Championship.

Bradley Johnson

Bradley Johnson is yet another Derby County player whose time at the club got off to a fledgeling start, to say the least. Johnson was played as a left-winger, a box-to-box central midfielder before finally finding his role at the club in the holding midfield role. Johnson has enjoyed a fine second season with Derby, as he has established himself as a more than adequate replacement for the sidelined George Thorne.

Replacing Thorne in the role just in front of the back four has proved difficult for Derby over the past few seasons, as they capitulated when Thorne got seriously injured at the business end of the 2014-15 season and have struggled ever since. However, in Bradley Johnson, they appear to have found their solution to the problem; short term at least. Johnson undoubtedly lacks the passing range that George Thorne possesses, however he makes up for this handicap through his physicality and his aerial ability. Johnson's screening of the back four has been vital in ensuring the club has conceded just 48 goals all season.

Tom Ince

Where would Derby County be without Tom Ince? Ince has contributed to 36% of Derby's goals this season; he also tops the club's goals and assists rankings with 13 and 5 respectively. The team has notably struggled for goals, however, they have been able to call upon Tom Ince for a lifeline various times throughout the campaign.
For the majority of Ince's career, it would have been fair to describe him as a frustrating player, as he didn't work hard enough defensively and he would often go missing in big games. This season has marked a huge improvement in those aspects of his game; adding to the dribbling, pace and technical ability he already possesses. Ince is still yet to consistently reach the same level of performance he was producing in a loan spell at the club in the 2014-15 season, although his numbers are undeniable, especially for a club sitting in the middle of the Championship table. Ince's case for winning the Derby County Player of the Season award may be aided by the excellent goal he scored against local rivals Nottingham Forest in the 3-0 thrashing at Pride Park.

Whoever is crowned the Jack Stamps Player of the Year will be left with a rather bittersweet feeling, as they will have to reflect on a disappointing campaign for the club.

Voting for the award closes at 12 pm on April 28th, cast your vote here.
Chris Soloman
21-year-old media student and football fanatic living in Manchester. Lifelong Derby County fan.

Total articles: 4

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