Quarterback-esque Derby midfielder can be the key to automatic promotion

In all competitions, Derby County have recorded a 79% win rate in games George Thorne has played in...

George Thorne has recently returned to competitive football with Derby County and with 13 games left to play, he may yet prove to be the key that helps Steve McClaren's troops unlock the door which leads to the Premier League.

As the Championship promotion race hots up, the Rams have every right to be confident after welcoming back the former West Bromwich Albion man to their first-team squad.

The former England Under-21 midfielder has started in Derby's last two games, recording a notably impressive performance on Tuesday night against Charlton, and has helped his side reach the summit of the second-tier table. However, given his win percentage during his time at Derby, his impact can come as no surprise.

Last season, while on loan, Thorne helped the Rams finish the season strongly, collecting seven wins from their last nine games. He went on to help McClaren's men comfortably reach the play-off final, recording a 6-2 aggregate win over Brighton, and despite defeat was named by the Independent as the best player on the day.

After long negotiations in the summer, it was announced the midfielder would become a Derby player on a permanent basis in July. However, just three days after signing, the hard work done to complete the deal for the talented midfielder took a huge blow after he was ruled out for up to nine months with ligament damage.

Nevertheless, seven months later, the stocky 22-year-old is back and proving he is more than capable of picking up where he left off in a Derby shirt and this time help the club back into the Premier League.

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The most notable aspect from the midfielder's game, as shown in the statistics above, is his passing ability.

Likened to an American football quarterback, Thorne has the ability to spread pin-point passes regardless of distance and angle of the player receiving the ball. On Tuesday, he split open the Charlton midfield with a perfect weighted through ball to Jeff Hendrick, who set up Jesse Lingard to put the East Midlands side 2-0 up.

Derby currently top the Championship and will be at least three points clear of third place heading into this weekend's round of games, where they go head-to-head with Fulham at Craven Cottage.

McClaren has reiterated to his players that they must remain professional if they are to win promotion to the Premier League and after last season's play-off final, where they lost to Queens Park Rangers despite dominating for large periods, no team currently in the race should know how quickly everything can change for the worse.

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