There’s Celtic intrigue in the EFL this weekend.
Derby County, now coached by ex-Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney, are staring down the barrel of relegation. In a crunch tie against fellow strugglers Sheffield Wednesday, three former Celtic players could save the Rams from ignominy.
David Marshall, Patrick Roberts and Colin Kazim-Richards all have a role to play to save County from relegation.
Marshall, tipped for a Bhoys return earlier this season, has had a difficult time of it. The Scotland goalie has only managed 9 clean sheets, working behind a shaky backline that saw Philip Cocu sacked in November [Sky Sports]. Further up the pitch, Roberts has managed a single assist in 23 league outings [Transfermarkt]. Kazim-Richards, a nomadic striker who took in a single campaign at Paradise, has fared better, with 8 goals.
It’s a far cry from shutting out Barcelona or winning league titles for Marshall and Roberts. Constantly linked with a return to the Celtic, Roberts has struggled since leaving the club. Spells with Girona, Norwich City and Middlesbrough haven’t gone to plan.
While Marshall could yet be saved from playing League One football, provided Derby County don’t ensure safety, it looks far bleaker for the Man City winger.
Celtic fans will have an eye on the EFL today, but how did it come to this for Derby County?
Normally a side flirting with play-off contention, Derby County’s downfall has been rapid. After competing for Premiership status with Frank Lampard, Cocu’s reign saw County finish 10th in his first season. Not bad, but hardly barnstorming either.
The former PSV man was then relieved of his duties in November 2020, with the Rams sitting bottom of the Championship. Wayne Rooney has attempted to steady the ship, and even has eyes on another ex-Celt for next season [GiveMeSport]. However, results haven’t been great under the rookie boss, and only a win against Sheffield Wednesday will do.
Sheffield Wednesday, for their part, could play the future Celtic midfielder Liam Shaw. Certainly, Sheffield-based pundits are suggesting the “leggy” Wednesday midfield could use the youngster’s dynamism [Sheffield Star]. Also, Wednesday have a considerable Scottish contingent, including Barry Bannan, Callum Paterson, Jordan Rhodes and Liam Palmer.
So, there’s plenty for Celtic supporters to get their teeth into here. The sad decline of Patrick Roberts is one thing, but seeing a goalkeeper who helped Scotland into the Euros, and a genuine target for the club, sink into the third tier of English football would be a sad sight indeed.