Will striker injuries continue to derail goal-shy Derby?

Derby County West Stand

The Rams drew a second consecutive blank in the 2-0 defeat at Brighton on Tuesday night, and the absence of injured strikers was keenly felt again.

Darren Bent's arrival on loan from Aston Villa in January coincided with a run of results that has delivered seven league wins in 2015. Bent himself has scored seven goals in 10 appearances as he pushes to secure his future, but a hamstring injury forced a 64th-minute withdrawal during Saturday's reverse at Fulham.

The contest against Brighton in midweek was County's second successive 2-0 defeat and saw them leapfrogged by Middlesbrough at the top of the Sky Bet Championship table.

Bent now faces up to a month on the sidelines. Added to this, 16-goal top scorer Chris Martin also has a hamstring injury and faces another two weeks out of the first team.

Another loanee, Tom Ince, started his spell with the Rams by scoring five goals in his first three games, but has not found the net in the last four outings. Liverpool's Jordon Ibe had also been in the goals during his loan spell at the iPro Stadium, hitting five goals before being recalled by the Anfield club in January.

Manager Steve McClaren retains faith in the hard-working Johnny Russell to pull his weight up front, but with just six goals in 19 appearances this season, the absence of a more regular hitman is clearly hurting the Rams.

With McClaren's men facing a tough run of fixtures in the coming weeks - including dates with Norwich, Middlesbrough, Wolves and Watford - the club have admitted they may have to dip into the loan market again to find goals for the team. Coach Paul Simpson told BBC Sport this week the club "had been making some calls" but bemoaned a lack of quality options.

The injuries are untimely for Derby, but with the likes of Norwich City closing-in rapidly in the chasing pack, the club need to find goals from somewhere fast.  

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