Derby manager Phillip Cocu has revealed Wayne Rooney is poised to make his debut for the Championship side against Barnsley later this week after they ended a seven-match winless run by beating Charlton 2-1 on Monday.
The Manchester United and England legend watched from the dugout once more as Jason Knight’s first goals in senior football – a brace either side of the break – saw the Rams record a welcome victory against a poor Charlton side.
Cocu’s men had to play with 10 men for over 70 minutes of the match after former Addicks loanee, Krystian Bielik, saw red for a reckless challenge on Conor Gallagher.
Despite that the visitors made little use of their numerical advantage, with the hosts dominant throughout proceedings.
A Lyle Taylor penalty gave Lee Bowyer’s side hope late on, but Derby held on for a priceless three points to provide a welcome boost to home supporters after a dreadful run of form.
It was Derby’s first victory since November 23 and now Cocu can call on Rooney for the first game of 2020, with Bielik and Tom Lawrence both suspended.
He said: “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.
“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.”
On the victory, Cocu added: “I’m extremely proud of how we performed in tactical discipline, how we defended and also how we played football with 10 against 11.”