Could Peter Crouch signing catalyse Derby County's promotion push?

New Derby County manager Steve McClaren poses

Crouch starred under Derby County boss Steve McClaren for England.

Had Steve McClaren never left Derby County it is reasonable to assume that Chris Martin would still be at the club.

There is little doubt that, right now, Martin - the focal point of Derby's attack during McClaren's first spell in charge - is the most in-form Rams striker, having struck four goals in his last five games on loan to Fulham.

Chris Martin of Fulham scores their second goal

With the Cottagers able to make Martin's deal permanent should they wish to, it is unlikely that the Scotland international will return to Derby, barring an almost inconceivable loss of form.

Though Darren Bent, another key figure in McClaren's previous reign, finally opened his account in Derby's last outing - a 3-2 win at Wolves - it would be little surprise if the 55-year-old sought to add to his attack in January, and Stoke City's Peter Crouch could be ideal.

Crouch played under McClaren during the Derby boss's ill-fated spell in charge of England - although Crouch fared far better, scoring eight goals in 13 outings - and a reunion at Pride Park is sure to appeal to the 35-year-old, who has played just 129 minutes of Premier League football this season.

New Derby County manager Steve McClaren poses

Like Martin, Crouch is far better technically than his height (and in Martin's case, his frame) suggests, and his ability to play back-to-goal makes him a potential godsend for the likes of Tom Ince, Johnny Russell and Craig Bryson, whose strengths lie in running from deep.

With Crouch's contract up at the end of the season - and Stoke perhaps looking to sign Derby's Lee Grant on a permanent basis - the Rams are unlikely to find him too hard to procure. It could be the signing that finally gets them up.

Stoke City's Peter Crouch applauds fans after the game

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