Thorne in the side of Don­caster

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Ian Baker To com­ment on this match go to http://boards.footy­

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.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

his goal LIFT OFF: Thorne cel­e­brates

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