Stats: Hughes, Hendrick and Bryson - Who's had the best start to the season?

Derby County's central midfield options could make the majority of the manager's in the Premier League envious, but which of three stars have had the best start to the season?

The Rams have had to put a play-off final nightmare behind them this season in order to focus on the task at hand - winning promotion to the Premier League. It's an obstacle they have seemingly overcome quickly as they sit just one point off top in fourth position. 

An opening day win against promoted Rotherham United set them up for an encouraging start. However, just one point from a possible six in their following two league matches left question marks over a potential play-off hangover.

Nevertheless, the Rams soon hit the high standards they set last season with an encouraging 5-1 win against Fulham, among other results, and if not for a frustrating afternoon against Millwall at the weekend, they would have been top going into the international break.

Derby fans more than anyone will know just how long and tough the Championship season can be, as this time last season they were lower mid-table and had already sacked a manager in Nigel Clough.

The talent in the Derby County squad is a reason they are constantly tipped by critics as a team likely to be promoted this season, and one area Derby are blessed in more than anywhere else is in central midfield. 

High profile trio - Will Hughes, Jeff Hendrick and Craig Bryson - have all made good starts to the season and all three have been involved in a good amount of game time, which considering the three have to fit into two as Eustace plays the defensive role in the team, is a testament to McClaren's management. 

However, which out of the three has had the better start to the season? We take a look at key statistics regarding each player and argue which of the three players has been most influential in the Rams' rise up the table.

  PositionTeamGoalsGoal AssistTotal Att AssistOntarget Scoring AttTotal PassAccurate PassTotal TackleTouchesAppearancesMins Played
Craig Bryson MF Derby 2 1 24 7 491 442 27 697 11 970
Will Hughes MF Derby 2 1 12 4 504 446 23 646 11 760
Jeff Hendrick MF Derby 1 1 6 2 237 208 7 311 7 420

As the table shows, Craig Bryson, who was the highest scoring midfielder in the Championship last season, looks to have had the biggest impact.

Although, with 210 more minutes on the pitch than Hughes and a massive 550 minutes more than Hendrick, it would be more suitable to compare each players impact in terms of minutes on the pitch:

  PositionTeamGoals MINSGoal Assist MINSTotal Att Assist MINSOntarget Scoring Att MINSTotal Pass MINSAccurate Pass MINSTotal Tackle MINSTouches MINSAppearancesMins Played
Craig Bryson MF Derby 485 970 40.42 138.57 1.98 2.19 35.93 1.39 11 970
Jeff Hendrick MF Derby 420 420 70 210 1.77 2.02 60 1.35 7 420
Will Hughes MF Derby 380 760 63.33 190 1.51 1.7 33.04 1.18 11 760

The second table shows that Will Hughes wins in five categories - goals per minute, total passes per minute, accurate passes per minute, total tackles per minute and touches per minute. Jeff Hendrick wins in one category - assists per minute. And Craig Bryson in two categories - shots on target per minute and total attempted assists per minute. 

The results aren't all that surprising. Will Hughes has clearly stepped up in performances this season and he has had a much bigger attacking threat, whilst still maintaining his classy 'pass and move' style.

Hendrick and Bryson, who are considered the more industrious out of the three, have shown their attacking edge too, but have been well-beaten by the impressive Hughes in the majority of the categories selected. 

After the international break, Steve McClaren will, hopefully, have all three players fully fit and ready to add to their already impressive start. The question is, if you're Steve McClaren, which two out of the three do you choose? 

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