Derby County striker Chris Martin appears set to leave the club at the end of the season.
Martin topped the Derby scoring charts for three successive seasons between 2013 and 20016. He posted an impressive 55 goals and 21 assists in 103 Championship starts.
These days, however, the 30-year-old is out of the first-team picture, and new manager Phillip Cocu has passed up the chance to hand Martin a way back into the starting XI.
Cocu took over the Derby post from Frank Lampard in the summer. One key aspect behind the Dutchman’s appointment was to help push along the club’s impressive academy players. And Cocu has rigorously stuck by those principles even in the face of adversary.
As many as seven academy players got a run out during the 1-0 Carabao Cup win over Scunthorpe United. Against Nottingham Forest in the second round, Cocu again made wholesale changes to the side which drew 1-1 with West Bromwich Albion in the Championship the weekend before.
Fringe players have been given games to keep up their fitness. Academy players have been handed valuable minutes for their development. Martin, however, has been cast aside.
The former Norwich City man was in impressive form during pre-season. He looked capable playing in a creative role in a front two alongside Jack Marriott.
Cocu, however, favours a 4-3-3 system and Martin seemingly just doesn’t fit.
After loan spells at Fulham, Hull City and Reading, Martin hasn’t been a regular at Pride Park for over three years now. His contract expires this summer, and his expected high wages will surely see him leave on a free.
It’s unfortunate. There is no doubt Martin could still do a job for the Rams in their current form. But Cocu prefers to focus on the long-term picture, and he is right to do so.