Thorne in the side of Doncaster
GEORGE Thorne had to wait nearly two months for his Derby chance but he is now fast becoming the key player in their Premier League push.
The West Brom midfielder could not break into the side during a frustrating start to his loan until recent weeks.
But now Derby’s play-off bid would look less optimistic without him as they head into tomorrow’s home clash with Barnsley still in with a mathematical chance of automatic promotion.
Thorne was outstanding again in his seventh appearance for the Rams at Doncaster on Friday where he scored a wonder goal just before the break.
Chris Martin clinched the game ten minutes from time, denying Burnley automatic promotion, but knows Derby have a real player on their hands.
“George has been quality since he was brought in,” said Martin. “He has been magnificent, he is very good on the ball and does his work defensively, he has a bite in the tackle and can pass the ball.
“He has got everything. He is a Premier League quality player and we’re lucky to have him.
“He’s added an extra dimen- sion. We were very good before he came into the team but he is a continuation of that.
“He’s very good on the ball, he’s relaxed and calm and we sometimes need that.”
Derby need to make eight points up on Burnley in just three games if they are to pip them for automatic promotion and know it’s unlikely.
“We will be trying our very best to make sure we’re prepared over the next few weeks and will have an open mind,” said Martin.
“We just need to keep our side of the bargain and push Burnley as close as we can. They deserve to be where they are because they have been fantastic this season and been so consistent.
“But I don’t think we’re a million miles away – we would like to have been a bit closer to them and put more pressure on.”
It was certainly a lacklustre Derby display in the first half on Friday where Richard Keogh nearly scored an early own goal after an early mix-up with keeper Lee Grant.
But Thorne’s stunning 25-yard strike from outside the area just before half-time settled the nerves and with the in-form midfielder controlling the play they never looked back with Martin’s 22nd of the season settling the win from close range following Jamie Ward’s cross.
Doncaster have now lost four on the spin ahead of tomorrow’s six-pointer at Millwall, but manager Paul Dickov is confident.
“We’re still in a decent position and there are teams below us,” he said.“It is in our own hands.
“We have to go down there and get a result. It is imperative we do.
“It's a tough league.We have to go down there with a determination to get back on track. We’re not far away but that little bit of quality is missing at the moment.
“We were everybody’s favourites to go down at the start of the season but we have got ourselves into a position where it's in our own hands.
“We got promoted last year and we are now competing against teams with massive budgets and we hope to continue to do so.”
his goal LIFT OFF: Thorne celebrates