Derby County defender Jake Buxton could be set for his first appearance of the season this weekend as his side take on Hartlepool United in the third round of the FA Cup.
The former Burton Albion defender hasn’t featured for the Rams since March, with his absence from the back four coinciding with a terrible run of form towards the back-end of last season.
Buxton later underwent surgery on his back, extending his stay on the side-lines.
“Jake has had a very difficult time with his back. He looks fit and he will start at Hartlepool. I am looking forward to giving him the opportunity to play. He is a terrific professional."
Buxton is a hardworking professional and despite not possessing the natural ability of a top Championship centre-back, his endeavour and intelligence has seen him become a reliable asset.
Derby’s current centre-back duo of Richard Keogh and Jason Shackell has been superb this season, forcing the likes of Alex Pearce and Ryan Shotton to spend most of the campaign on the bench.
Buxton’s return from injury means Derby now have five able centre-backs competing for two spots, suggesting that one could leave either on loan or permanently this month.
Buxton, though, is a Derby favourite among supporters and his place should remain at the Ipro Stadium.