Derby County

Duane Holmes scores for Derby County
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Stoppage time equalizer for American midfielder Duane Holmes

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Derby County stayed unbeaten with Wayne Rooney on the pitch thanks to a last minute goal from an American playmaker.

Duane Holmes hit a beautiful volley in the first minute of stoppage time to give the Rams a point away to Middlesbrough on Saturday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

It was the American’s first goal of the season and third in 56 appearances for the Rams. Holmes earned his first two USMNT caps this summer.

The 25-year-old has been an every week starter for Philip Cocu dating back to mid-October.

Rooney went 90 minutes as Derby is 17th with 34 points, eight back of the promotion playoff picture.

Back to Holmes, he admitted that the goal was lucky; He swung his peg but it struck his shin pad to fool the goalkeeper.

‘Delighted’ Rooney assists, captains Derby County in debut win (video)

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Wayne Rooney returned to English football in style, picking up an assist while captaining Derby County in a 2-1 defeat of Barnsley on Thursday.

The 34-year-old swept a free kick to the foot of Jack Marriott for the first goal of the match. The Rams moved to 33 points, eight points back of the playoff places.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Rooney was credited with three tackles and two interceptions to go with his key pass, and was tracking to be the Man of the Match before petering out over time. From The Derby Telegraph:

“It was a good victory in the end,” he said. “That’s seven points out of the last nine and for myself personally, I’m delighted to get 90 minutes.

“It was nice. Obviously, I’ve been training for a long time now, so it’s always nice to get back on the pitch. It felt good, but the most important thing for us was the three points.”

Next up for Derby is a visit to Middlesbrough, who holds the same amount of points as his Rams.

What are reasonable expectations as Rooney prepares for Derby County debut?

Wayne Rooney prepares for Derby County debut
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Oh, there are so many ways this could go…

Wayne Rooney is set to debut for Derby County on Wednesday, his first appearance in the Football League Championship following 491 Premier League appearances and 50 more in MLS.

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Throw in 187 more runs in the cups of Europe, and you’ve got a pretty good handle on why manager Phillip Cocu isn’t going to hesitate to give Rooney a chance to shine early and often.

“If a player with the qualities, career and the experience of Rooney (is available) you have to be very happy and glad he is here, so I don’t need a suspension to consider him in the first XI to be honest,” Cocu said.

Cocu says expectations should be lowered for the 34-year-old Rooney at the start of his tenure at Pride Park. From The Derby Telegraph:

“He’s fit, he can start but he will need a few games. Expectation will be high when he starts playing but we have to give him a few games to build up his minutes and get in the team. So maybe not perfect from the start, but it’s important he will get in the team as soon as possible so we get a certain shape in our team.”

Derby sits 17th in the Championship with 30 points, nine clear of the bottom three and nine back from the playoff places. Rooney joined the club in late November but wasn’t eligible to play for the side until January.

So what should we expect from Rooney?

Most former MLS players’ performances in the Championship are difficult to compare to Rooney. There’s the obvious trouble given he enters with one of the best resumes in English history. And usually the move is represented by youngsters, like Jack Harrison and DeAndre Yedlin or MLS bit players going home (often to levels below England).

Rooney was a force in Major League Soccer, no doubt, so it’s reasonable to expect he’ll deliver some of the goods at Derby. Thirty-two year old Steven Fletcher has 12 goals this season, Lewis Grabban (31) has 11, and that both Pablo Hernandez (34) and Lukas Jutkiewicz (30) put up double-digits in goals and assists last season.

No, this isn’t about whether Rooney will produce offense, or even if he’ll be able to stymy the red mist that saw him sent off twice at DC United. Admittedly, the last point is a bit more of a concern than the first given the fine margins in the Championship.

Promotion from the Championship would be a surprise and unexpected notch in Rooney’s belt. Not a lot of players have turned that trick having already minted their legend status.

Our prediction: Rooney helps the Rams to a bunch of wins and some decent additions in the January window to boot. He pitches in 8-10 goals and a half-dozen assists while the Rams make it to the playoffs. Anything after that is impossible to guarantee, which is why the Rams would’ve been better served not sitting 21 points off leaders Leeds United and West Brom.

But he is where he is, and he’s done more with less. And at the very least, this should be a lot of fun.

Wayne Rooney begins player-coach stint at Derby County

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DERBY, England (AP) Former England captain Wayne Rooney was given a rousing reception before taking his place among Derby County’s coaching staff for the first time at the start of his 18-month stint as player-coach at the second-tier English club.

[ MORE: Mourinho praises “phenomenal” Dele Alli, Spurs supporters ]

Rooney watched from the dugout as 14th-place Derby drew with Queens Park Rangers 1-1 at Pride Park on Saturday.

England’s all-time leading scorer, who is not eligible to play until January, had his name chanted by Derby fans when he was introduced to supporters on the field before kickoff. He applauded in reply.

Rooney left Major League Soccer side DC United in October.

Derby County captain lost for season, 2 players charged with drunk driving

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Derby County has lost its captain to a knee injury and two players to arrest after drunk driving led to a car accident on Tuesday.

Richard Keogh is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury, while Tom Lawrence and Mason Bennett have been charged by police after a two-car accident ended with one vehicle smashing into a pole.

[ MORE: Can Chelsea take advantage of soft schedule? ]

Keogh, Lawrence, and Bennett were among a small group of players to continue drinking after a team-building exercise that evening.

Given the dangers of drunk driving, Derby County is thankful that the damage isn’t much worse. From an official club statement:

We have been very clear about our attitude towards alcohol and the players know that at certain and specific times of the season they are permitted a drink together as a group in a controlled environment.

Those involved in Tuesday’s incident know they will pay a heavy price for their actions, but also that we will support them with their rehabilitation back into the squad and team.

Neither Bennett nor Lawrence were injured, and both will face a court date on Oct. 15.

Derby County sits 18th in the 24-team Championship, seven points off a playoff place after eight of 46 match days.