It would hardly be an overstatement to say that the build-up to Derby County’s Championship campaign has been one of the most challenging any team has ever endured ahead of a new season.
Indeed, with Wayne Rooney having just nine fit outfield players prior to the arrival of centre-back pair Curtis Davies and Richard Stearman on Friday, it appeared – for a worrying length of time – as if the 35-year-old would struggle to muster up 11 players for the fixture against Huddersfield Town on Saturday.
Despite this, the Rams put up an incredibly valiant display against the Terriers, taking the lead in the match through the impressive Curtis Davies late on in the first half, only for Huddersfield centre-back Naby Sarr to repeat his counterpart’s feat on the stroke of half time, with the game ultimately finishing honours even.
However, while there were a number of fine performances in the Derby ranks, with Rooney undoubtedly delighted with his team getting something out of the game, there were also a few concerning displays – perhaps most notably from Graeme Shinnie.
While the midfielder picked up the Jack Stamps Player of the Year award for last season before the game, if his performances remain at the level of the Huddersfield clash going forwards, he will certainly struggle to win it again for 2021/22.
Indeed, the 30-year-old was wasteful with the ball, completing none of his five attempted crosses and just one of his four attempted long balls and giving away possession on a whopping 18 occasions.
The £6.2k-per-week man also lost eight of his 15 duels over the course of the 90 minutes, in addition to being dribbled past once and conceding three fouls – with The Telegraph journalist and self-professed Derby fan Ryan Bourne stating his belief that Shinnie looked well “off the pace” in the game.
All in all, the Scotland international’s metrics saw him earn a SofaScore match rating of 6.5, the joint third-worst of the 11 Rams players to start the fixture.
As such, with Derby facing what is sure to be a long and arduous Championship campaign in 2021/22, they will certainly need one of their best performers from last season to step up his game if they are to have any hope of securing survival in the division come next May.