The best Derby County XI containing only English players from the last 15 years – Do you agree?

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The 2021/22 season looks as though it could be a challenging one for Derby County.

After only avoiding relegation from the Championship on the final day of last season, a string of financial issues and resulting embargos mean that the Rams have yet to make any signings this summer.

Meanwhile, a number of other players have moved on from Pride Park following the expiry of their contracts, meaning manager Wayne Rooney is currently preparing for the new campaign with a threadbare squad supplemented by young players and free agents.

That is of course, a daunting prospect with the new season little more than two weeks away, and those associated with the club will be desperate to see that situation rectified sooner rather than later.

Here though, we’re turning our attention away from all that for just a few minutes, with what may hopefully be a welcome distraction for some Derby fans, as we name what we think, is the club’s best starting lineup of the last 15 years, when only English players are included.

We start this list between the posts with the goalkeeping position, which we’ve given here to Scott Carson.

Joining Derby from Wigan Athletic in the summer of 2015, Carson didn’t waste long in establishing himself as the Rams’ number one, and was voted the club’s Player of the Season during his second campaign with the club in 2016/17.

The former England international went on to make 171 appearances in all competitions for Derby, before spending the last two seasons on loan at Manchester City as a back-up ‘keeper, where he impressed so much he has now earned a permanent deal with the Premier League champions.

We start the back four on the right-hand side of the defence, with a Derby County academy graduate in the shape of Jayden Bogle.

Having initially come through the club’s youth system, Bogle quickly became a regular for the Rams when handed his chance in the club’s first XI at the start of the 2018/19 season, at the age 18, and went on to make a total of 90 appearances for the club over the course of the next two campaigns.

The England Under 20 international’s performances for the Rams were enough to earn him a move to the Premier League with Sheffield United last summer, and although that may not have quite worked out last season, there can be no doubting the ability, and indeed potential, the young right-back still has.

Moving into the centre of defence, and we find another young player who still has a big career ahead of him, after making a significant impact in a short space of time at Pride Park.

Tomori joined Derby on loan from Chelsea for the 2018/19 season, and made 55 appearances for the Rams across the course of the campaign, helping them to the Championship play-off final, where they agonisingly missed out on promotion to the Premier League after defeat to Aston Villa.

Despite that disappointment, Tomori’s efforts were still enough to make him the first player to win Derby’s Player of the Season award while on loan with the club, and having been unlucky not to break into Chelsea’s first-team, the 23-year-old recent completed a permanent move to AC Milan, after an impressive loan spell with the Italian giants.

Joining Derby after eight year at Birmingham City in 2003, Johnson would spend the next five years on the books at Pride Park, remaining a Rams player until 2008.

Johnson quickly made himself a key figure in the centre of Derby’s defence following his arrival at the club, and even captained the side during the 2005/06 season, also helping them qualify for the Championship play-offs twice, winning promotion at the second attempt in 2006/07.

In total, Johnson made 150 appearances across all competitions for Derby, becoming a hugely popular figure at Pride Park in the process, meaning the Nottingham born defender is well deserving of a place in this side, even if was capped by Jamaica at international level.

A slightly controversial selection given he was capped at senior international level by Scotland, we’re still giving McEveley the nod here, given he was born in Liverpool, and capped by England at youth level.

Joining from Blackburn Rovers in January 2007, McEveley played an important role in helping Derby win promotion to the Premier League during his first few months at Pride Park.

Despite suffering from injuries that hampered his opportunities at times, even forcing him out on a couple of loan moves, the left-back still managed to make just over 100 appearances in all competitions for the Rams, proving a reliable option when fit, before leaving to join Barnsley in the summer of 2010.

Joining Derby on loan from Hull City late in the 2015 winter transfer window, Tom Ince wasted no time making an impact at Pride Park.

Scoring 11 goals in 18 games during his loan spell with the Rams, it is no surprise they moved quickly to make the winger’s move a permanent one, with the winger briefly becoming the club’s record signing, before going on to hit double figures for goals in each of his two full seasons for Derby.

In total, Ince scored 38 goals in 114 appearances for the Rams, remaining a more than useful attacking threat for the club from out wide throughout his time there, before making a move to the Premier League with Huddersfield in 2017.

Johnson had already had one spell with Derby by the time he returned to the club in 2005, having previously featured for the Rams between 1999 and 2001, during which time he was capped once at senior level by England.

During his second spell with Derby, Johnson would make 66 appearances in all competitions for the club to kick start his career again after a challenging time with Leeds, with the midfielder helping the Rams to promotion from the Championship during the 2006/07 season.

However, a knee injury suffered by Johnson in Derby’s play-off final win over West Brom brought his playing career to a cruelly premature end, forcing him to retire from the game at the age of just 28.

Another of Derby’s 2018/19 loan contingent that took them so close to promotion to the top-flight of English football that claims a place in this side, is Mason Mount.

Like Tomori, Mount also joined on loan from Chelsea in the summer of 2018, and played a big role in that run to the play-off final, scoring 11 goals and providing five assists in 44 appearances during his time with the Rams.

The midfielder has since gone on to flourish both for club and country, playing important roles in Chelsea’s Champions League triumph, and England’s run to the final of Euro 2020, in the course of the last few months, and you feel there is plenty more to come from the 22-year-old.

Although he is more naturally a central midfielder, Hughes is also capable of playing out on the left, and that is where we’ve put him here, in order to get this midfield quartet into the side.

Joining Derby in 2011 at the age of 16, Hughes was still able to make three senior appearances during his first season at Pride Park, and quickly became a regular the following season, establishing himself as an important cog in the Rams’ midfield, even winning the Player of the Season award for 2014/15.

Hughes’ performances earned him an £8million move to Watford in 2017, and after spending the next three seasons in the Premier League, the 26-year-old played an important role in helping the Hornets win promotion back to the top-flight at the first attempt last season.

One other slightly contentious entry due to his Scotland caps, Martin still gets the nod upfront here due to the fact he was born in Suffolk, and represented the Three Lions at Under 19 level.

After initially joining Derby on loan from Norwich in February 2013, Martin made his move permanent that summer, and went on to hit the 20-goal mark across all competitions in each of his first two seasons at Pride Park, highlighting his ability to find the back of the net.

Martin’s long association with Derby came to an end earlier this summer, when he left the club following the expiry of his contract, having netted a total of 76 goals in 225 games throughout his time as a Rams players.

Claiming the other spot upfront in this side, Hulse joined Derby from Sheffield United in the summer of 2008, having failed to score at all in the previous campaign with the Blades.

That would be no such problem for the striker at Pride Park, as he netted 18 times in 54 games during his first season with the club, helping secure their Championship status, and earning himself the club’s Player of the Season award for his efforts.

Hulse followed that up with 12 more goals in the following campaign in 2009/10, before leaving the club early in the 2010/11 season to join QPR, ending his Derby career with a respectable record of 31 goals in 96 appearances in Rams colours.

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