Derby County suffered a 2-1 defeat on Saturday afternoon, their first loss on the road this campaign, as Bolton Wanderers claimed all three points with a slice of luck. A disappointing result for the Rams, but a gutting reality for Jake Rooney in particular who sustained a nasty looking injury in the first half.

Paul Warne’s men had initially taken the lead through Conor Hourihane’s penalty before Dion Charles stepped up to the spot at the other end to equalise for the Whites before half-time. A straight red card for goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith set the Rams on the backfoot at the beginning of the second half, Josh Dacres-Cogley then put the hosts ahead soon after as his cross took a huge deflection off Tyrese Fornah and looped into the net beyond substitute Josh Vickers’ reach.

The loss in itself is frustrating, of course, but Rooney leaving the field of play on a stretcher will bare more weight upon the squad on their return to action from the international break.

Derby County v Fleetwood Town - Sky Bet League 1
Photo by Jon Hobley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Just 15 minutes into the encounter, the 19-year-old was attempting to shield the ball out of play before falling to the ground unopposed, screaming as he clutched his right leg in agony in front of the travelling Derby supporters. He was replaced by summer signing Sonny Bradley, exiting the pitch to applause from all corners of the stadium.

He now joins fellow right-back options Joe Ward and Kane Wilson on the injury list, leaving Warne with a selection headache ahead of the Rams’ next fixture at home to Portsmouth a fortnight from now.

Ward and Wilson still face around six weeks out of action, whilst the length of Rooney’s recovery period is currently unknown at this early stage.

Speaking to RamsTV following the Bolton clash, Warne labelled the teenager’s injury as ‘heart-breaking’.

“Obviously it looks a bad injury with Roons, so that is pretty heart-breaking,” said the gaffer.

“That is sad.

“Just his reaction and everything, I think it is a pretty severe knee injury.

“I do not obviously know, I am just being led by my physios, but it does look a bad one.

“It is heart-breaking for him, let alone disappointing for him. He has got in the team, done really well, really fit.

“To be out for a period of time… it is tough, and it is tough being a young pro when you are trying to make your way and you got in then you come out.

“I am heart-broken for Roons to be fair.”

Derby County v Fleetwood Town - Sky Bet League 1
Photo by Jon Hobley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

On the day, Warne opted to bring Bradley on for Rooney and push Curtis Nelson out to cover at right-back. That could possibly be an option moving forward, however, the more likely candidate to return back into the fold is Eiran Cashin following his failed move to Brighton & Hove Albion on transfer deadline day.

Who replaces Rooney?

Cashin regaining his place in the side, partnering Nelson in the middle, would see Craig Forsyth return to left-back and leave a spot in the squad open for contention.

Korey Smith featured as a right-back for the majority of last season, though he has returned to his natural midfield role this term, so he could be an option. Nelson, of course, was trusted in the position by Warne on Saturday, though if he was to start there it would likely see Bradley partner Cashin at the back or Callum Elder continue at left-back with Forsyth occupying the other centre-back spot.

The Rams were in need of an extra body for the position during the transfer window following the injuries to Ward and Wilson but were unable to complete a deal. With Rooney now out, that is looking costly.

Warne now has a decision to make ahead of the Pompey match with the back four needing yet another reshuffle. It is bound to be an interesting couple of weeks in training whilst the Derby boss seeks a temporary solution.

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