Derby coach looking to avoid further international injury blows ahead of Forest clash

Derby County first team coach Paul Simpson says he's hoping that Will Hughes and Simon Dawkins return from international duty unscathed this week.

Derby County have started the Championship season with two wins, two draws and a defeat as Steve McClaren's side look to bounce back from losing to Queens Park Rangers in last season's playoff final. Their biggest test so far comes on Sunday as they travel to face fierce rivals Nottingham Forest at the City Ground, with Stuart Pearce's men setting the pace at the top of the table so far.

As if the trip to the City Ground wasn't going to be hard enough, the Rams were handed a blow as forward Jamie Ward sustained a hamstring injury on international duty with Northern Ireland, which could rule him out of Sunday's big East Midlands clash.

Now, first team coach Paul Simpson is eagerly awaiting the return of Will Hughes and Simon Dawkins from international duty, with midfielder Hughes away with the England Under-21's and winger Dawkins currently with Jamaica.

"We just have got fingers crossed for the last two to come back," said Simpson. "We have got Simon Dawkins and Will Hughes who play tonight and hopefully they will come back unscathed. We will be following their progress, but we just want them back with us."

"Will’s back in with us tomorrow morning; he has a late flight back from their game and arrives in the early hours. Simon Dawkins is a little bit later and hopefully they will come back ok," added the former Preston boss. "The other internationals will have had a boost from being involved with their national squads and hopefully we will be the ones who benefit from that."

Dawkins could be in line for a start should Ward be ruled out injured, whilst Hughes could be an integral part of the Derby midfield in the heat of the battle this weekend.

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