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Five Derby County academy starlets: Where are they now?

Brighton's Steve Sidwell (L) in action with Derby County's Jeff Hendrick

Players from Burnley, Hull City and Stoke City all feature in this look at five former Derby County academy stars.

Derby County manager Gary Rowett before the match

Derby boss Gary Rowett will be looking to add more home-grown talent to the first team

The Rams have an impressive recent history in producing first team players from the club's own talent pool. After hitting financial trouble following their relegation from the Premier League in 2002, the academy fast became a necessity rather than a luxury for the club.

Many players have gone down various routes within the professional game, with some more successful than others. We take a look at five players that have gone on to make a name for themselves in the world of football.

Will Hughes - Derby County

Hughes is the most recent success story of the club's academy structure and will be seen as a shining example to those hoping to break their way into the club's first team fold.

After signing for the club as a first-year scholar in 2011, the midfielder was able to work his way into the first team in the same year, making his debut in an away defeat to Peterborough United age just 16. After impressing then Rams boss Nigel Clough in cameo appearances, he has become a regular fixture in the first team starting XI ever since.

Now 22, Hughes has made over 160 appearances for the Rams and it would be more if it wasn't for his fair share of injury problems. Hughes has admitted to basing his game on Barcelona legendary pair Xavi and Andres Iniesta, his flair and technical ability on the ball has made him the subject of Premier League interest for a number of years. It seems that a big money move to England's top tier is edging ever closer as Derby continue to stumble in the Championship.

Derby County's Will Hughes celebrates scoring their third goalDerby County's Will Hughes celebrates scoring

Jeff Hendrick - Burnley

Hendrick broke into the first team around the same time as Hughes following a number of years working his way up the youth team ranks after moving from Ireland in 2008.

After playing a key role in their reserve side, the Dublin-born midfielder was given his chance in the first team at the end of the 2010-2011. He went on to cement his place in Derby's central midfield and enjoyed a productive first season aged just 19-years-old.

During his eight years with the club, he clocked up over 200 appearances and broke into the Republic of Ireland senior squad. He played a key role in almost helping Derby secure promotion back to the Premier League in 2014. Hendrick moved to Burnley last summer after the club accepted a £10.5 million (Sky Sports), which was a club record fee for the Clarets and was also the biggest transfer fee ever received by Derby for a player.

Burnley's Jeff Hendrick celebrates scoring their first goalBurnley's Jeff Hendrick celebrates scoring their first goal

Tom Huddlestone - Hull City

Tom Huddlestone was picked up by Derby following his release at the age of 12 from their bitter rivals, Nottingham Forest after being told he was not strong enough.

He quickly progressed through the club's academy ranks and became a key player in their reserve side at just 15-years-old. George Burley was convinced enough to hand Huddlestone his first team debut aged just 16. The midfielder went on to play 43 of Derby's 46 league games in a largely forgettable 2003-04 campaign, but Huddlestone stood out.

After suffering play-off heartache the following season, he made a controversial deadline day move to Tottenham Hotspur in what Derby fans still consider to be daylight robbery as their controversial owners sold him for a fee believed worth just £2.5 million. He has since gone on to earn caps for the England national side and is currently in the midst of helping Hull City escape relegation from the Premier League.

Burnley's George Boyd in action with Hull City's Tom HuddlestoneBurnley's George Boyd in action with Hull City's Tom Huddlestone

Lee Grant- Stoke City

After joining the Derby as a trainee in 2000, Lee Grant broke into the first team in 2002 and went on to win the club's young player of the year award in his debut season.

After the emergence of Lee Camp, Grant soon found himself as the club's back-up goalkeeper and he left for Sheffield Wednesday in 2007 where he made 145 appearances for the Owls before moving to Burnley. In three seasons, he notched up 126 games and this convinced the Rams to snap up their former keeper on a free transfer.

He helped guide the club to the play-off final in 2014 in a memorable season back at Pride Park but was helpless to stop Bobby Zamora scoring in the last minute to condemn his side to play-off misery. He was the club's first choice goalkeeper the following season but lost his place to Scott Carson. He earned a move to Premier League Stoke City in August to provide cover for the injured Jack Butland, the 34-year-old has impressed at the Bet 365 Stadium.

Stoke City's Lee GrantStoke City's Lee Grant

Giles Barnes - Orlando City SC

After signing a professional contract with Derby at the age of 17, Barnes quickly established himself in the Rams midfield and helped guide the club to promotion to the Premier League in his second full season.

Barnes was an integral part of Derby's play-off winning season but fell victim to a number of injuries during their disastrous one year stay in England's top flight. A serious knee injury suffered the next season further hampered his progress in a Rams shirt. After an unsuccessful loan spell with Fulham, where he failed to make an appearance, he was released by Derby in 2009.

Barnes rediscovered some of his best form at West Bromwich Albion in an 18-month spell at the Hawthorns before being released. A brief spell at Doncaster Rovers followed before Barnes moved to the MLS, he signed for Houston Dynamo. The 28-year-old played 132 games and scored 34 goals in a four-year spell. He moved to Vancouver Whitecaps before being traded to Orlando City, where he plays in the same team as former Brazil star Kaka.

Picture Supplied by Action ImagesBarnes has played for MLS sides Houston Dynamo, Vancouver Whitecaps and Orlando City

 

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