Derby County supporters were full of jubilation as their main summer transfer target George Thorne was snapped up on 19th July. Thorne had spent a successful 4 month loan spell at the iPro Stadium at the end of last season. However in less than a week, this jubilation turned to bitter disappointment.
Just days after signing a permanent deal, Thorne picked up a cruciate knee ligament injury ruling him out for up to 9 months. The ex-West Brom midfielder played just 33 minutes before limping off in County’s 2-0 pre-season defeat to Zenit St Petersburg at their training camp in Austria. George Thorne was flown back to the UK to undergo scans on his left knee. It was there then confirmed he had torn his anterior cruciate ligament. A period of up to 9 months on the side-lines now lies ahead of the 21-year-old.
It is general consensus amongst Championship supporters that Derby boast one of the league’s best midfields, with or without Thorne. However, the thing that made Thorne such a key player is his ability to play in the holding role. Central midfielders, Craig Bryson, Jeff Hendrick and Will Hughes are all regarded as more attacking style players. Derby also have John Eustace in their ranks, another good player and more than comfortable in that holding role. But at 34 years old, Eustace would most certainly struggle to last 90 minutes a week in a 46 game season. Derby also welcome back midfielder Paul Coutts who spent most of last season injured. His name has been suggested for the Thorne role, but Coutts is vastly lacking match fitness and is far from tried and tested within the position.
In the friendliess that have followed Thorne’s setback, both John Eustace and Will Hughes have been played at CDM. Neither have particularly caught the eye of supporters enough to say, with one of them holding we can go and win the league. The general thought amongst fans is that a natural CDM needs to be brought in on loan. Despite this, there has been little movement in any incoming transfer activity and Derby fans have been voicing their concerns and opinions on social media.
Only time will tell if Sam Rush and Steve McClaren are able to bring a quality replacement in for Thorne, however with little over a week until the opening game of the season Derby fans are right to be anxious.