With less than two weeks to go until the 2021/22 Championship seasons begins, most managers probably already have a vague idea of what their starting XI will look like.
Derby County boss Wayne Rooney isn’t in such a privileged position.
The Rams have just two games remaining of their pre-season campaign – against Real Betis and Notts County – before their curtain-raiser against Huddersfield on 7 August.
The club are currently embroiled in a legal battle with the EFL after accusations they haven’t complied with Financial Fair Play rules, the fallout of which has resulted in them being placed under a transfer embargo until they can refile their accounts for 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Rooney has already admitted he’ll be un able to field a team for his side’s first Championship game if said embargo isn’t lifted, so the news Jason Knight will be out for up to 12 weeks after a training ground injury is the last thing he needs right now.
And the worst part of it all? Rooney is the one who caused the injury.
The Derby boss recently revealed the talented midfielder could be sidelined for almost three months after picking up an ankle knock in training, yet The Telegraph now report it was Rooney himself who caused the injury after going in for a 50-50 challenge with the youngster.
Rooney has been forced to take part in his side’s training sessions of late given the lack of players at the club, and the former Manchester United forward clearly still has the competitive streak he became synonymous with throughout his playing days.
Derby only have nine senior players available to them with less than a fortnight to go until their Championship opener – two of whom are goalkeepers – and the loss of Knight is another huge blow to their pre-season preparations.
Should the aforementioned embargo not be lifted, Rooney will likely be forced to put his faith in the club’s academy members, with the Rams are seemingly already heading for yet another relegation battle barring a small miracle.