According to the Daily Star and later published by the Derby Telegraph, Derby County have been linked with a move for Brentford midfielder Ryan Woods and he’s exactly the sort of player they should be looking at.
Derby have largely been difficult to beat this season, and in Matej Vydra, David Nugent and Sam Winnall before his injury, they’ve had a clinical edge upfront which has seen them edge out opponents in tight games.
Of late, however, Gary Rowett’s men have struggled to break down teams who pack defences out of possession and the lack of creativity and speed through the middle has been evident.
Any two from Tom Huddlestone, George Thorne, Joe Ledley and Bradley Johnson generally sit in-front of the back four and add steel to the side – evident from the impressive number of clean sheets this term.
That said, when forced to look for a goal, it’s become a problem area and Rowett must bring in a central player this summer who has speed, creativity and movement in his locker – regardless of whether the Rams win promotion or not.
Brentford’s talisman Woods is the exact sort of player Derby are crying out for, and fans were impressed with his recent outing at Pride Park despite the Bees crumbling to a 3-0 defeat.
The 24-year-old started his career in the lower echelons of English football, representing Walsall and Shrewsbury Town before joining Brentford in 2015.
Woods has gone on to make over 100 appearances for Brentford, and this season he has predominantly featured as a holding midfielder who averages more than 50 passes per game with an 82.6% pass accuracy (whoscored).
But it’s not his passing range which Derby are desperately short of, it’s his speed of thought and how much ground he covers both in and out of possession compared to the more static Thorne or Huddlestone.
Woods, a winner of Brentford’s Players’ Player of the Year award last season, was dubbed the ‘Ginger Pirlo’ by Shrewsbury fans and is valued at a bargain-priced £1.5 million by Transfermarkt.