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Leacock set to miss rest of season


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DEAN Leacock is unlikely to play again this season as Derby County's defensive headache shows no sign of easing.

A persistent groin injury needing lengthy rest has kept Leacock out since early November.

Miles Addison's season is also over due to a foot injury and left-back Jay McEveley has missed the last two games with a hamstring problem and will sit out Saturday's crucial home clash with Barnsley.

Derby's poor defending cost them in Saturday's 4-2 defeat by Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

It was the first time this season the Rams had conceded four goals in a League game.

Ten goals have been conceded in their last five matches and only four teams in the Championship have let in more goals than Derby's 53. They are Charlton (65), Watford (60), Nottingham Forest (59) and Norwich (57).

Nigel Clough was in doubt what the problem was at the weekend.

"The key to the game is that we can't defend," said the manager.

"Every time we got back into it, we conceded again.

"The first three, from our point of view, were very, very poor goals.

"Until we can defend at a reasonable level, that is going to be the pattern I'm afraid and we just hope that we score more than the opposition do."

Clough and his coaching staff will work on trying to tighten up the team defensively but will not be able to turn to Leacock who was a key defender earlier this season.

Asked if Leacock would feature this season, Clough said: "Highly unlikely.

"The only way is if we are safe come the last one or two matches of the season, we might get him back on the pitch then but we can't see him featuring in any other circumstances at the moment.

"Defensively, we have had problems over the last couple of months and that remains the case.

"We have to improve. Even with the personnel, we have got to try and make it a little bit harder for the opposition to score.

"We would like to have a few more options back there than we have got but they are the only four first-team defenders we have got fit at the moment.

"We are down to the bones but it is still no excuse for the manner in which we defended against Sheffield United.

"We have got to try and encourage them to defend better and do their jobs better because that was all that was missing from Saturday's performance.

"It might sound odd saying 'all' but had we defended anywhere near decently, we would have come away with at least a point and maybe a win."

Clough is scouring the loan market for a defender.

"We are trying and have been trying for a couple of weeks but it is difficult to get players on loan because most teams are fighting for something at this stage of the season," he said.

"We would love to get a good defender in but they have to be better than we have got."


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