Three high earners Derby need to move on in the summer

Derby County’s Darren Bent and Brighton's Lewis Dunk in action

Another year has passed and Derby County are destined for another season in the Championship and some players may find themselves in line for the axe.

Derby's Matej Vydra celebrates scoring their first goalDerby County will look to end the season strongly

Chairman Mel Morris has invested heavily in the Derby County squad over the last couple of seasons to try to help the Rams reach England's top tier for the first time since 2008.

Despite over £40million being splashed out on the side, the club are no closer to achieving promotion. To describe the situation as disappointing would be an understatement. After some immense criticism from supporters in recent weeks, many believe that the first-team is in need of an overhaul.

With Gary Rowett now in charge and a summer clear-out looming, we take a look at three players who could find themselves shown the exit door at Pride Park.

Jacob Butterfield

After a productive first season in a Rams shirt, Butterfield has struggled to show any signs of recapturing the form that he showed last campaign. He has just two assists to his name in his 33 Championship appearances.

The central midfielder notched up seven goals from the midfield to help the Rams reach the play-offs last season. The 26-year-old was signed from Huddersfield Town in a deal thought to be worth £4 million, as reported by the BBC. If he fails to show vast improvement in the club's final nine games then Derby may look to salvage back some of this money in the summer.

Derby's Jacob Butterfield in action with Preston North End's Jordan HugillJacob Butterfield has failed to score in any game for Derby County this season

Bradley Johnson

Johnson was signed in the final hours of the 2015 summer transfer window in what was a record club transfer fee at the time. The former Norwich City favourite's time at Pride Park has been largely hit and miss.

He has been played in a number of different roles in the midfield to try and find his best position in this Derby side. Despite showing glimpses of what made him held in such high regard at Carrow Road, the 29-year-old has still done little to justify his hefty price tag paid for him.

Johnson will be one of the club's top earners and Derby consider offloading him before his stock decreases any more.

Darren Bent

Selling your top striker is not usually a practical proposition. However Bent, who has 12 goals to his name this season, is 33.

Signed on a free transfer, the ex-England man has been a more active figure in the starting XI this season after spending the majority of the last campaign sat on the bench.

Bent will be on a high wage and even though is goal-scoring ability has never in question, his lack of running is a cause of frustration for many supporters. With Derby looking to trim the wage bill, Bent looks like a most likely victim of summer squad haul.

Derby County’s Darren Bent and Brighton's Lewis Dunk in actionDerby County’s Darren Bent and Brighton's Lewis Dunk in action

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