Derby County take on Preston North End this weekend and one player who should be looking to make a big impact on his return to Pride Park is Lilywhites forward Emil Riis.
The Danish striker was on Derby’s books as a youngster before his release in 2018.
Riis moved back to Denmark with Randers FC, before returning to the Championship this past summer with Derby’s upcoming league opponents Preston North End.
Standing at 6ft 3inch, Riis, who scored 18 goals for boyhood club Randers, is starting to show his potential and Derby may now have regrets in letting him go so easily.
Hi Olly. For those Derby supporters unfamiliar with Emil Riis, what sort of attacker is he? Does he play through the middle or out wide?
OD: Riis has played exclusively down the middle for us. He has been especially effective on the break; if he’s left isolated against a defender in behind or in wide areas, his combination of pace, strength and work rate means he causes havoc. He hasn’t quite added a clinical edge to his game yet, but he’s an absolute nuisance.
Why has Emil Riis only started nine of 20 Championship games so far?
OD: He started out on the bench for a few games and has been brought into English football gradually. Only recently did he find a place to live in Manchester, so Alex Neil hasn’t put too much pressure on him. He’s also been effective against tiring legs as a substitute. He bagged a goal and an assist in a cameo against Middlesbrough in such a role.
Is Emil Riis likely to feature against Derby County on Boxing Day?
OD: I would assume so. He was only a substitute against Bristol City, but having him on the break against his former club has to be appealing for Neil.
Preston have a decent recent record of signing forwards and later selling for a profit such as Callum Robinson and Jordan Hugill. Can Emil Riis emulate those and play Premier League football?
OD: He certainly could make that jump, he has all the athletic attributes you could ask for. He has quick feet for his size, he maybe needs to fill out a little more and become a deadlier finisher, but he has plenty of time to do that.
It’s not often you see Preston utilise the market outside the UK. Does Emil Riis represent the start of a new strategy at Deepdale?
OD: I think this may have been a one-off. The English market is hard for Preston to operate in, especially when it comes to strikers, and Riis just represented better value. With Brexit regulations limiting imports, it’s hard to imagine Preston going to that will again, even if Scandinavian recruitment tends to work in the Championship.
Thanks Olly. While Preston beat the Rams in the Carabao Cup earlier this season, Derby boast a 14-game unbeaten run in the Championship against their upcoming opponents. Preston’s last league victory at Pride Park came way back in 2002. It would be quite ironic if Emil Riis played a part in changing that record.