Derby County manager Gary Rowett has told the club’s official website that he will be more than happy if on-loan forward Sam Winnall remains at the club despite suffering a probable season-ending injury.
The former Barnsley man has become a popular figure at Pride Park, despite not being an automatic starter.
Winnall has scored six goals in 17 league appearances, including winners in the 2-1 away victories over Leeds United and Ipswich Town.
The 27-year-old’s season, however, looks to have been cut short as an innocuous incident occurred in the 3-0 win over Brentford last weekend, causing Winnall to catch his studs in the turf and awkwardly twist his knee.
Speaking to the club’s official website dcfc.co.uk, Rowett admits it is an anterior cruciate ligament injury, which could end his season, but states he wishes the player to remain with the Rams for the remainder of the campaign.
“His movement meant he twisted his knee, but he got up and carried on. He will probably be the first player to tear an ACL and go on to then have a shot, win us a penalty and make four runs. That shows his determination,” Rowett explained.
“We’d be more than happy to keep him as part of the group. He might be on loan, but for me he is our player right now. We do, of course, have to respect that he is contracted to Sheffield Wednesday and we will speak to them about it.”
Winnall may be a regular for the Rams, yet he is very much a Rowett-type player and his commitment to the club has certainly won over the Derby fans who are no doubt lamenting his injury.
With Matej Vydra, Cameron Jerome, David Nugent, Chris Martin and Darren Bent on the books, Derby are not exactly light on forwards, yet the latter two are expected to leave in the summer while Nugent turns 33 in May.
Rowett will be in the market for another forward this summer and, having worked with Winnall, his comments suggest he feels the Owls man has become part of the group at Derby and a player he would like to keep long-term.
It remains to be seen whether Wednesday would sanction a permanent exit, although the Owls are also top heavy with Lucas Joao, Gary Hooper, Jordan Rhodes, Atdhe Nuhiu and Fernando Forestieri on their books, so they may need to shift one or two out of Hillsborough this summer.