Derby County are set for a busy summer in the transfer market and every position will be under scrutiny as Gary Rowett bids to stamp his mark on the squad, not least the midfield.
Derby County manager Gary Rowett will be drawing up his summer transfer targets
Derby finished in a disappointing ninth position and next season will be their tenth campaign in the Championship. Rowett is the latest manager to be given the increasingly unenviable task of getting the Rams out of England's second tier. The former Birmingham boss has been at the helm since March and will have his own idea of what is required to succeed at Pride Park.
Many Derby fans have formed their own opinions on their side's shortcomings. A large majority believe that the midfield is lightweight and lacks a combative presence and this has been a major factor behind their failings on the pitch in recent seasons. We take a look at three midfielders that would add much needed bite to the side.
Leadbitter played a crucial role in helping Middlesbrough secure promotion from the Championship last season. However, he has found less opportunities to come by in Boro's relegation campaign and has played in just 12 Premier League games.
The 31-year-old is the club captain and is likely to play a bigger role in the team if he is to remain at the Riverside Stadium. His contract runs out at the end of next season and the Teesside club may wish to cash in on the player.
The former Ipswich and Sunderland man has over 450 league appearances to his name and has won promotion to the Premier League twice in his career. This experience alone would be worth the transfer fee in itself if the Rams do decide to move for Leadbitter in the summer.
Grant Leadbitter helped guide Middlesbrough to the Premier League last season
Leicester City midfielder James is likely to be looking for a new club in the summer. The 25-year-old spent the second half of this season on loan at Championship club Barnsley in a bid to regain fitness following a long term injury lay off.
The Manchester United academy product helped guide the Foxes to promotion from the Championship in the 2013/14 campaign and was a regular figure in the first team before falling victim to a ligament injury. He had to watch from the sidelines as his side lifted an unlikely Premier League title.
James looked to regain some form at Oakwell and a move for James would prove to be a shrewd piece of business as his first team options look limited at the King Power Stadium.
Matty James made just one appearance in Leicester City's Premier League title winning campaign
The Iceland international will enter the final year of his contract at Cardiff City in the upcoming season and so far, there is no sign of the club's Player of the Season signing a new deal at the club.
The 28-year-old has been a mainstay in the Cardiff team since moving from Coventry City in 2011 and has played 238 games for the club. Cardiff may have to consider the possibility of selling one of their prized possessions rather than risk losing him on a free transfer.
Any move for Gunnarsson would command a sizeable but affordable transfer fee. However it is not every day that a player with 70 international caps to his name and previous Premier League experience becomes available.
Aron Gunnarsson was named Cardiff City's Player of the Season
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