Derby County boss Paul Warne could face a selection headache in midfield if Max Bird is to leave the club this summer, with it likely that the Rams would need to dip into the transfer market to find a replacement.

Bird was the subject of a bid from Hull City on Tuesday. Derby quickly rejected the offer, but Liam Rosenior’s men are expected to return with a new and improved offer for the midfielder which may include Ryan Woods heading to Pride Park in exchange.

Should the academy graduate part ways, and Woods not be a part of the deal, the Rams would be a body short in midfield. An area which would then certainly need addressing.

Without Bird, the Rams would be limited in their options for players who could fit into the holding role which he possesses.

Korey Smith, Liam Thompson, Louie Sibley, Conor Hourihane and Jake Rooney would make up the potential candidates. None of which are strictly suited to the role.

Derby County v Manchester City U21 - Papa John's Trophy
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Smith had been utilised as a right-back last season, but has now taken up more of a box-to-box role in the centre of the park.

Thompson is another who has been played out of position, as recently as pre-season for him, taking up the left-wing-back role. Naturally a central midfielder, the youngster is unlikely to be a regular in the starting XI this season.

Sibley has not been used as a holding midfielder since his academy days. Since making the first team, the 21-year-old has featured predominantly as an attacking midfielder, a winger or even as left-back last season.

Hourihane would perhaps be the most likely to fill in the role given his experience. He would be able to cover, though his active presence in the final third would be missed.

Finally, Rooney is an able holding midfielder but is preferred by Warne as a centre-back or right-back so it would be a doubt to see him him take over the role.

Bird dilemma

With funding seemingly limited despite the sales of Krystian Bielik and Jason Knight, it is unlikely that the Rams would be able to replace Bird with a player of the same calibre should he leave.

Promotion would be worth more than any fee received for the vice-captain, so it is almost better to risk him leaving on a free next summer should Derby fail to go up instead of directly hindering their chances of promotion this season by allowing him to exit.

Wayne Rooney claimed that Bird had a ‘lot of talent’ from both his time playing besides him and his time as boss.

It is not a straightforward situation for the youngster, but the sooner it is resolved the better.

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