Derby County defender Alex Pearce has signed for Millwall on loan until the end of the season – a decision which may come back to bite manager Frank Lampard unless he acts now.
The Rams have suffered somewhat of an injury crisis in defence this season.
Marcus Olsson was the first to pick up a lengthy injury, and fellow left-back Craig Forsyth joined him in being out for the season after suffering a knee ligament injury in the defeat to Aston Villa.
Summer signing Scott Malone is also absent, prompting Max Lowe to return from a loan spell up at Aberdeen, while centre-back Curtis Davies is another who has had his season cut short with knee ligament damage.
Lack of defensive options:
Derby’s only fit senior centre-backs on the books were Richard Keogh, Chelsea loanee Fikayo Tomori and Alex Pearce, but now the latter’s switch to Millwall must have left some supporters fearing the worst.
Pearce may have only made one substitute appearance this season, but fans at Pride Park are well aware of how reliable and professional he is with the 30-year-old making 39 league starts in the 2016/17 campaign (Whoscored).
Lampard has set in motion a Derby County style which features playing the ball out from the back, a trait which Pearce seemingly struggles with, but still his presence adds both experience and valuable squad depth.
An injury or suspension to either Tomori or Keogh would now require either Andre Wisdom, predominantly a full-back, or George Evans, a natural holding midfielder, to play out of position.
Lampard’s other options are to promote from within and call up Max Hunt or Ethan Wassall from the academy side, but doing so in the middle of a promotion race is a big risk.
The Rams must instead now make another defensive signing this month, as a failure to do so could derail the side’s Championship promotion hopes with the east Midlands side currently sitting sixth in the table.