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News from Pride Park - 05/12/2002

News from Pride Park
Deon's doing the business
   Derby County

Deon Burton is proof of how situations can change in football. He was out of the first team picture and had loan spells at Stoke City last season and Portsmouth at the start of this. He was scoring goals for Portsmouth but a broken foot prevented a possible permanent move and instead, he spent a couple of months on the treatment table. Now he's back in the Derby team, scoring goals and making a big contribution. He came on as a substitute to hit the winner against Sheffield United and was also on target in Monday's victory over Wimbledon. He was one of the main reasons why we beat Wimbledon. I thought he was superb. He led the line well and encouraged the other two strikers, Mally and Izale. Deon is more comfortable playing with his back to goal than any of our other strikers. He can receive the ball, hold it up and use it. It is helpful to have that type of player. He has been handed a chance, shown a great attitude and done well.

The manager has also proved that he is not afraid to change things if he thinks it will benefit the team. Deon has been around in football long enough to know that things can change quickly, and what has happened to Fabrizio Ravanelli is another example. Rav enjoyed a good pre-season and was on fire in the opening day game against Reading, showing exactly what we wanted from him. But unfortunately he was troubled by this niggling Achilles tendon problem. He tried to come back a few times but found it difficult. He also tried rest, different treatment and playing through the pain. But it has not worked for him and he had an operation on Monday. Surgery is always the last avenue a player wants to go down. Hopefully, he can get himself fit and return for us later in the season. You do not play at the level Rav has unless you are a good player and a good professional. I know it might look some way off just now, but he is the type of player who could come back in February or March and still score goals for us. The injury and operation is a blow for him and the club.

Izale McLeod almost lifted the stadium roof in stoppage time against Wimbledon on Monday. He made a fantastic length-of-the-pitch run before smashing a shot against the woodwork. There has been lots of talk about Thierry Henry's great goal in the recent North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur. Izale's would have been up there with that, had it gone in.

Reserve display good for future

The Reserves went top of their League in midweek with a victory over Chelsea. It is great news for Mark Lillis and the lads, and I was also delighted to see Adam Murray score the winning goal. Adam has had a difficult time in recent weeks. He has not been in the first team after playing most of the games earlier in the season. But he has shown a great attitude and got on with the job. Reserve team football is not just about winning and topping the table - it's also about developing players and bringing them through. Mark fielded another young team against Chelsea with the likes of Pablo Mills, Barry Malloy and James Turner playing at the back. That has to be good for the future.

Brewers have come so far

Burton Albion's FA Cup heroics showed how far they have progressed under the guidance of Nigel Clough. To take Oldham Athletic to a replay, extra-time and then penalties was a fantastic achievement. I was certainly cheering them on because it was Oldham who knocked us out of the Worthington Cup in early October. The money generated from Burton's Cup run is equally important to the club, and the confidence they can take from pushing Oldham all the way will, hopefully, lead to a good season in the Conference.

Derby Evening Telegraph

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