Derby County's Misery Continues As Wayne Rooney Injures Team's Best Player In Practice
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Few teams have experienced a more painful first half of 2021 than Derby County, and the year just got worse for Rams fans following a training ground incident on Monday involving manager Wayne Rooney.
Due to a shortage of first-team players, Rooney — who last played for Derby in November of 2020 — has been taking part in team training sessions.
While full details have not been disclosed, it is understood that Rooney entered a 50-50 challenge with midfielder Jason Knight, with Knight suffering a severe ankle injury as a result of the tackle. Early reports say Knight will be out for up to three months with the injury.
Knight, a 20-year-old Derby academy product from the Republic of Ireland, is widely considered Derby's best player and one of the most promising players in the EFL Championship.
He made his Derby debut at age 18, earned his first Ireland cap at 19 and started every single league match for the Rams last season.
Rooney was already having a pretty shabby week thanks to some unfortunate images leaked to the press, but this latest episode involving the former England captain really sums up the nightmare Rams fans have experienced in recent months.
The club is in a difficult position financially thanks to some irregularities in the club accounts over the past few years. Such was the extent of Derby's deficit that the EFL was forced to get involved, and while two potential takeovers offered a glimpse of salvation, both fell through.
With the shadow of a possible points deduction hanging over the club during last season, Derby avoided relegation on the final day thanks to a 3-3 draw against Sheffield Wednesday.
A few weeks later, Derby was handed its punishment by the EFL, which included a possible three-point deduction in the future should the Rams fail to pay their players by June 30, 2022.
As a result of the ruling, the club was also placed under a transfer embargo, which has since been partially lifted in the last week to allow the club to sign out-of-contract players to deals with strict wage limits.
With numerous players leaving in the summer, Derby County was left with nine senior players to start preseason — including two goalkeepers and no center backs, hence why Rooney was even participating in first-team training.
This player shortage forced the club to gather a conglomerate of free agents and youth players just to field a starting XI for its recent slate of friendlies.
With the injury to Knight, Derby faces an even bigger handicap. And with the season less than two weeks away, relegation might almost be a reprieve for the Rams at this point, who are strong favorites not only to go down but are also likely to tustle with Rotherham United's record-low point total of 23 points in 2016-17.
Derby County begins its Championship campaign against Huddersfield Town on Aug. 7 in what could quickly become a downright ugly nine months for the club.