Derby County preserved their Championship status on the final day of the season following a 3-3 draw with Sheffield Wednesday in what became a relegation showdown.
The Rams endured a difficult campaign, on and off the field.
Manager Wayne Rooney has called upon the club to sort out their off-field issues so they can immediately put in place their plans for work ahead of next season.
The squad is bare. Rooney must strengthen several areas of the team. But here, we look at five young players who could become regulars in the senior squad next season.
Festy Ebolese predominantly came through the Derby youth ranks as a right-back, but he has since been moved further up the field due to his blistering pace.
The Republic of Ireland U19 international made his Championship debut against Norwich City last month, and later featured at Blackburn Rovers and Preston North End.
The 18-year-old has a bright future ahead of him, and with Derby’s current lack of attacking options, he could find himself given more playing time at senior level next season.
Kornell McDonald made seven Championship appearances this season, including a full start in the 1-0 defeat to Championship title winners Norwich last month.
The youngster is predominantly a right-back.
While Nathan Byrne has been one of Derby’s better performers this season, the 28-year-old will miss games with suspension and injury allowing McDonald to feature again.
Louie Watson only joined Derby’s academy from West Ham United last year.
The Republic of Ireland U21 international has shown glimpses of real quality at senior level, but the nature of Derby’s position saw him feature less in the final games of the season.
Watson has every chance of establishing himself as a creative midfielder at Pride Park, and manager Wayne Rooney may be keen to utilise him more next season.
Derby finished the season as the lowest scorers in the Championship.
Colin Kazim-Richards turns 35 in August, Lee Gregory has since returned to Stoke City after his loan spell while Martyn Waghorn is out of contract next month.
Stretton joined Stockport County on loan in March and scored three goals in five games, prompting Derby to recall him only for injury to end his season early.
The Rams are down to the bare bones in the striker department, but Stretton offers hope with the youngster certainly ready to play a greater part next season.
Archie Brown can operate at central defence or at left-back.
Derby may look at both positions this summer, with left-back Craig Forsyth coming to the end of his tenure at Pride Park while there is a shortage of central defenders.
Matt Clarke, Teden Mengi and George Edmundson have all returned to their parent clubs after loans at Derby, while Andre Wisdom and Curtis Davies are out of contract.
Derby must strengthen their defensive options, while Brown could provide adequate backup to bolster the ranks following an impressive debut season at U23 level.
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