Eustace last appeared for the Rams in the 1-0 victory against Ipswich earlier this season, undergoing knee surgery after that game and McClaren has suggested it was a turning point.
“People talk about George Thorne but the biggest loss has been John Eustace. His record when he plays is unbelievable,” said the boss.
“I thought he was immense at Ipswich. He got us that result and got injured and we have not seen him since.”
Eustace is a very experienced player and he would have been a useful man to have in the side while the Rams were enduring a recent difficult spell in results.
Heads were dropping and he could have used his experience to keep everyone motivated and mentally switched on to what the club are still capable of before the end of the season.
He also offers Derby a valuable option as a holding player in midfield, cutting off the angles and offering extra protection to the defence.
According to transfermarkt, Eustace’s contract expires at the end of this season, but McClaren’s comments certainly suggest he feels the midfielder could add something next season.
What might change that is if Derby get promoted into the Premier League, which will mean a restructuring over the squad throughout the summer, with an arguable need for fresher and younger faces to help Derby compete in the top flight.
Either way, it would be surprising if he’s not kept on beyond this campaign.