Graphic: Why Paul Clement should select this Derby County XI versus Bolton

Reebok Bolton

Derby County travel to Bolton Wanderers for the opening game of the Championship campaign.

Derby County begin their Championship campaign with a trip to Neil Lennon’s Bolton Wanderers side, their first opening fixture away from home for five years.

A lot of changes have taken place since the Rams’ failed promotion bid last season, with boss Paul Clement taking over from Steve McClaren and as many as seven new players joining the club.

Barring a defeat at Grimsby, pre-season has thrown up plenty of promise for Derby ahead of the new campaign and Clement now has a big selection headache for the trip to Bolton.

Back five:

Scott Carson or Lee Grant? The first big call is to select the club’s upcoming number one, and on this occasion the latter gets the nod with the player deserving of a clean slate under his new manager.

The back four pretty much selects itself, with Chris Baird adding a much calmer presence than Cyrus Christie and the leadership skills to stand up when necessary.

With Jason Shackell passed fit, he must start and the potential partnership with Richard Keogh sees a nice blend of height, strength, agility and for the most part, reliable distribution from the back.

Midfield trio:

The Rams boast plenty of options in midfield, but for the trip to Bolton they would be wise to go with a middle three in order to not leave themselves open up against an expected fiery opposition.

George Thorne and Will Hughes have plenty of footballing intelligence to keep calm in possession, while Jeff Hendrick adds a physical presence plus a potential goal outlet.

Craig Bryson missed last Sunday’s friendly against Burton Albion through a fitness problem, and as such is unlikely to be in contention for a start at the Macron Stadium.

Attacking trio:

Johnny Russell has been Derby’s top scorer in pre-season and his effort can’t be faulted. However, composure is often his downfall and in such a system - would you start him ahead of Tom Ince?

Record signing Ince has to feature, though he evidently looks far more comfortable in an attacking wide right position instead of appearing in the middle where space is limited and the area congested.

Arguably the biggest dilemma is the striker roles, with Andreas Weimann, Darren Bent and Chris Martin all vying for a central position and arguably individually better suited to a differing systems.

4-3-3 adds balance and protection, with Martin excelling in the centre-forward role and acting as a pivot, linking-up the play and coming deep in order to allow midfielders to run in beyond him.

It’s a system which is best suited away from home and Weimann completes the line-up, the Austrian capable of playing wide-left with his aggression and pace adding another element in the final third.

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