According to the Telegraph, England Under-21 international Will Hughes and midfielder Craig Bryson are both admired by Premier League clubs, but Derby are poised to offer the pair new contracts in a bid to avoid losing them.
Steve McClaren is now tasked with the difficult job of keeping his talented Derby squad together after the Rams were left stunned as a 10-man Queens Park Rangers were able to turn a one-sided game on its head in the last minute to win promotion to the Premier League. It was a defeat the Derby manager described as ‘very cruel’ but insists he will head into the summer with even greater optimism.
A huge part of that optimism for next season will involve the former England manager encouraging the players already contracted to the club to stick around, and hopefully add to those with the players that were on-loan at the club.
‘The next stage is keeping the players we have under contract together,’ said McClaren.
‘I’d like to sort out the likes of Wisdom, Thorne and Bamford. Maybe we have a chance of getting them back because I think they’ve enjoyed their time here.
‘We’ll look back with a bit of anger, sadness and remorse but in a few days when we talk of the future it will be bright.’
Will Hughes, a notable target for Liverpool, will be the one under the microscope this summer as a new contract at Derby would likely kill interest in the starlet and allow him to focus on next season.
Under his current deal, the 19-year-old is contracted to the club until the end of the 2015-16 season which, if he decides not to sign a new deal, would allow him to leave the club in two-years for a fee decided by a tribunal.
Although Liverpool have been allowed to have the first-option on the talented teenager, Derby County chief of operations has warned the England under-21 international will not come cheap and could even cost the Merseyside club up to £15million pound.
Craig Bryson, a reported target for Celtic, is another player that Derby must look to tie down with a long-term deal, if they’re to improve upon their third-placed finish last season. The Scot was one of the most productive players in the Championship last season, scoring 16 goals and assisting in another 13.