Derby County face in-form Championship rivals Preston North End in the televised clash on Friday night, a game which could help reignite Ikechi Anya’s Pride Park career.
The Rams head to Deepdale coming off the back of their 1-0 FA Cup win over Accrington Stanley. While booking their spot in round five was great news for boss Frank Lampard, it wasn’t without incident.
With Derby in control against their 10-men opponents, a long clearance from a Rams corner suddenly saw Accrington in on goal. Right-back Jayden Bogle took one for the team, cynically pulling back Paul Smyth, which prompted referee Jon Moss to issue a straight red card.
Bogle will serve a one-match ban, ruling him out of the trip to Deepdale. To make matters worse, Andre Wisdom missed the trip to Accrington with a groin injury and may not recover in time.
The situation leaves manager Frank Lampard with a potential dilemma, and a big decision to make. He could play the versatile Duane Holmes there, or one other option is bringing Ikechi Anya back into the fold.
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Ikechi Anya – falling out of favour:
Anya joined Derby from Watford in 2016 with the BBC reporting the fee to be around £4 million. The 31-year-old, however, has spent the past two-and-a-half-years on the periphery, making just 19 league starts.
The Scotland international hasn’t made a single Championship appearance for Derby under Lampard, with Bogle establishing himself as the former Chelsea midfielder’s first-choice while Wisdom provides cover.
But with both players likely to be unavailable Anya may be set for a surprise recall – a potential pivotal moment in his Pride Park career. Anya’s contract at Pride Park expires in the summer of 2020, though most supporters expect him to leave sooner.
Anya has been unfortunate to fall out of favour at the club. He was signed by Nigel Pearson, who was sacked after just nine games. Steve McClaren, Gary Rowett and Lampard have all followed, each with a different philosophy.
A return the side and a good performance, however, could bring him back into the fold. And he may not get another chance before the summer tranfer window.