Birmingham City boss Pep Clotet has claimed that their game at Derby County will still provide a stern test despite their ‘off the field issues’ as reported in an interview on their official website.
A small group of Rams players including Mason Bennett, Tom Lawrence and Richard Keogh were involved in a car accident on Tuesday evening, in which captain Keogh suffered a knee injury that will rule him out for the rest of the season.
This is being internally investigated by Derby and it will no doubt have had an effect on them going into the game against Blues but Clotet believes that once the game begins, the Rams will be fully focused on getting a positive result.
“I don’t take it into account,” said Clotet when asked if it was a good time to take on the Rams. “It will probably only have an effect on them until the game starts.”
“What happens to them doesn’t make the game easier for us, the game is difficult enough and we need to prepare for the most difficult situation.”
“Derby will be strong, they will hope to win their first home game and we have to be prepared for that. As soon as the ref says, ‘OK we go’ all that is nothing.”
Clotet also spoke of his admiration for his opposite number Phillip Cocu who took over at Derby in the summer following the departure of Frank Lampard.
“I have a massive respect for Phillip Cocu,” he said. “In my many travels I went to see a lot of training and games at PSV and what he achieved with that team, a really young squad, academy players developing and playing to a standard, was fantastic. I have a lot of respect for that.”
The events of recent days surrounding the players’ conduct at Derby will undoubtedly have had an unsettling effect on the rest of the squad but it is vitally important that come kick off they do their talking on the pitch.