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Rams move is Best for Leon

HIS club career now looking promising again with his move to join the Irish contingent of Rams at Derby County, forgotten man Leon Best will try to his his international career back on track after four years in cold storage.

Best, still only 27, has seen his career grind to a halt in the last 12 months and, in reality, he has been stagnating since he moved to Newcastle United from Coventry City in 2010, a subsequent move to Blackburn Rovers also failing to work out as planned.

Blackburn placed Best on the transfer list last season and moved him out on loan, to his former club Sheffield Wednesday, but even though he returned to Ewood Park for pre-season training, his face still did not fit as far as boss Gary Bowyer was concerned and Best remained on the transfer list.

Sheffield Wednesday and Millwall were linked with the striker but Derby boss Steve McClaren, who worked with Best before, won the race to sign him and he comes straight into the Rams squad.

"I am delighted to sign and be working with Steve McClaren," said Best.

"It is something I am very much looking forward to. He showed a lot of enthusiasm to sign me and I really wanted to get the deal done.

It is always nice to be wanted and that has made me want to come here and work hard for him."

The Irish squad has a strong presence at Derby, with senior caps Jeff Hendrick and Richard Keogh in the squad as well as Conor Sammon, though the arrival of Best could signal an exit for Sammon, who has been linked with a loan move to Ipswich Town.


Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane are regulars at Derby and a move there will only give ther striker more exposure. Best has not played for his country since he appeared as a sub in a friendly against Brazil in 2010, losing his place in the squad under Giovani Trapattoni, even though the Italian was a fan of Best.

In an interview with the Herald last season, Best said he still wanted to get back into the green shirt, despite his frustrations.

"I want to play for Ireland as soon as I can," he said. "We don't have too many Irish strikers in the Premier League now, a lot of us are in the Championship and I feel I am at the desired standard to play.

"It shouldn't come down to how things are off the field or what you have done before, all that should matter is your form at that point in time, if you are playing well enough you should be picked.

"I feel I should have more than seven caps by now.

"It's funny that I was called up and picked more often by Ireland when I was in the Championship at Coventry than when I was in the Premier League with Newcastle. It was hard to understand.

"I haven't been involved at all in a long time and I haven't played a game for Ireland in four years. You need something to happen on both sides, I know I need to be playing well and scoring goals.

He added: "When someone is thinking of you, they will at least send you a text to let you know you are in their thoughts, but when that doesn't happen, and then you do do well, everyone comes knocking on your door again and expects you to be all grateful and happy that they are there for you when they weren't there in the first place."