Derby County got their pre-season campaign underway with a rather familiar feeling, going down 2-1 at Grimsby Town, with the starting back five looking increasingly shaky.
In the final third of the previous campaign, the Rams embarked on a truly terrible run of form which saw the team ship 17 goals in 10 matches, dropping from top spot in the Championship to a disappointing eighth.
There were a number of possible factors for their collapse, Steve McClaren’s links to Newcastle United being an obvious one, but the defending toward the end was ultimately inexplicable.
Newly-appointed boss Paul Clement has already decided to shake things up this summer, with Darren Bent, Andres Wiemann, Tom Ince, Chris Baird, Scott Carson and Alex Pearce all arriving.
However, some could argue that the key signing has yet to occur, that being a real quality central defender, with Burnley’s Jason Shackell the name heavily linked, as per HITC’s very own sources.
The 31-year-old was a Rams player prior to his switch to the Clarets, and a section of Derby supporters still feel the commanding centre-back was Nigel Clough’s best signing - better than forward Chris Martin.
With the team boasting a wealth of attacking quality, Shackell could ultimately prove to be the final piece of the jigsaw in Clement’s promotion bid, and the fans can sense it.
With their first pre-season fixture underway and the East Midlands outfit heading into the interval 2-0 down due to some rather lacklustre defending, the calls for Burnley’s skipper couldn’t have been more evident.
@redfern_ian completely agree, all 4 would struggle playing in the Sunday league. Shackell can't come soon enough— Christop (@CJB__dcfc) July 11, 2015
Hopefully get shackell in soon— Wayne Lambert (@lambyrammie) July 11, 2015
'There's only one Jason Shackell' us Rams fans singing that at Grimsby Away— Tyler Edmonds (@South12Stander) July 11, 2015