Gary Rowett has made no secret about his desire to trim the size of Derby County’s squad. Despite losing seven first-team players in the summer, however, including key men Tom Ince and Will Hughes, the manager still believes there’s some deadwood that needs cutting off.
“One of the remits when we came in was we needed to try and reduce the wage bill to something far more manageable,” Rowett said in quotes reported by the Derby Telegraph.
“We need to try and sell some players and get a bit (of money) in to bring some players in, as well. Looking at our group, we would have 26 players if they are all fully fit. I’ve said it before – it’s too big.”
Who is at risk?
If Rowett wants to reduce his wage bill, that suggests that some of the club’s highest-earning, big-name players are at risk of following the likes of Jacob Butterfield, Craig Bryson and Nick Blackman out the door in the New Year.
And one name stands out. Chris Martin has started just two of his nine Championship appearances this season with Rowett preferring David Nugent and Matej Vydra in attack while Sheffield Wednesday loanee Sam Winnall also brings plenty of quality to the table.
This leaves Martin, who returned to Pride Park this summer after a loan spell with Fulham, in the limbo.
Though Rowett sang the Scotland international’s praises after he impressed off the bench in the goalless draw with Cardiff City prior to the international break, per the Derby Telegraph, his continued lack of starts suggests that he remains some way down the pecking order.
So, with Rowett looking to get big earners off the wage bill, is a player who was Derby’s top scorer for three seasons running between 2014 and 2016 at risk?