Thursday 21 November 2019

Derby County 'still feeling impact' of Richard Keogh dismissal

Richard Keogh. Photo: Getty Images
Richard Keogh. Photo: Getty Images

PA Sport

Derby boss Phillip Cocu admits the impact of Richard Keogh's sacking is still being felt at the club as they gear up for Saturday's east midlands derby.

County head to Nottingham Forest in the lunch-time kick-off with the saga surrounding their former captain still rumbling on after his agent claimed the decision to dismiss him for gross misconduct could set a dangerous precedent for the game.

Derby terminated Keogh's contract two years early after he was involved in a car crash that resulted in team-mates Tom Lawrence and Mason Bennett being convicted of drink-driving.

The club's decision has been criticised as Lawrence, 25, and Bennett, 23, have faced lesser punishments while the 33-year-old Keogh - who could be sidelined for at least 12 months with injuries sustained in the incident - has lost his job.

Derby won their first game since Keogh's sacking 2-0 at home to struggling Middlesbrough, but face a tougher task at the City Ground.

Asked if Keogh remained a distraction, Cocu told a press conference: "It can be of course. Last week I said this event has impact, big impact, so we cannot say a week later that everything is gone, it's still got some impact.

"But we also have to as a team be focused on the games and we have one more game coming up before the break - a very big one and we need all focus on that."

Cocu said his squad had been boosted, though, by Wayne Rooney's presence at the training ground this week, with the former England striker due to officially start his player-coach role at the club in January.

There is another derby in south east London as Charlton travel to Millwall looking for a first competitive victory over their neighbours since 1996.

Boss Lee Bowyer, who was in the last Charlton side to beat Millwall, said on the club website: "Maybe I'm a good omen because we played them twice that (1995/96) season and beat them twice. So, hopefully, I'm that good omen.

"I've been away from the club since and now I'm back, hopefully we can get the same result again and then maybe our fans can walk around with the bragging rights for 20-odd years."

West Brom, who travel to Hull, lead the way in a congested Championship table and midfielder Romaine Sawyers has put his impressive form down to the backing he has received.

"The dressing room is very much an easy dressing room and I feel like I've got the trust from them," he said on the club website.

"That gives me the platform to play confidently. There are times when I've lost the ball and it's not like someone will rip my head off. That makes things easier and if I keep performing I think I'll be OK."

At the other end of the table basement boys Stoke hope the appointment of Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill as their new manager will herald a change in fortunes.

The 50-year-old's first game will be at relegation rivals Barnsley as Stoke look to end a run of three straight defeats.

Elsewhere, second-placed Preston will aim to continue their surprise promotion push with victory at home to rejuvenated Huddersfield, who have won 14 of the total 16 points they have accumulated this season in their last six games.

Leeds, who host Blackburn, are one of three teams level on points with Preston, with the other Swansea, travelling to Sheffield Wednesday, managed by former Swans boss Garry Monk.

Fulham travel to Birmingham, QPR are at home to struggling Middlesbrough, Reading host Luton and Brentford are away at Wigan.

On Sunday, Cardiff welcome Bristol City.

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