Derby County manager Phillip Cocu has responded to agent criticism of his handling of Krystian Bielik by stating he is not going to change his ways due to an injury.
Bielik was selected for the U23s to face Tottenham Hotspur on Monday. However, after just 15 minutes, the Pole suffered an ACL knee injury ruling him out for the season.
Bielik’s agent criticised the decision to play the midfielder for an U23 game, saying:
Krystian was getting ready for Saturday’s match with Hull. He could easily handle it by training normally. In the meetings of younger players, on a lower level, the game is completely different. I believe that this Monday session did not make sense.
But Cocu has since hit back. While admitting he didn’t read the quotes published by Sportowefakty, the Derby boss says an unfortunate injury can occur at any level.
Cocu told The Athletic journalist Ryan Conway:
🗣 Cocu on Bielik’s agent: “I didn’t read his comments. But injuries can happen anywhere – in training sessions, in the game. I’m not going to change because maybe a player can get injured. Otherwise we’d never play a friendly.”
— Ryan Conway (@RJConway92) January 16, 2020
Derby County face Championship rivals Hull City at Pride Park on Saturday.
Bielik had missed the past three matches, serving a suspension following his straight red card for a dangerous tackle in the 2-1 win over Charlton Athletic.
Some supporters felt the former Arsenal man didn’t need the extra game. However, after suffering from a lack of fitness for most of the season, it was a straightforward move.
Bielik, when reaching top form, has been one of Derby’s better players this season. He has an ability to break up attacks and get the Rams going on the counterattack.
His injury leaves the door open for Max Bird to establish himself as a regular. The academy star has impressed in his past three starts with Derby picking up seven points.
Graeme Shinnie and Tom Huddlestone are also coming back from fitness.