Jones: Rams squad may be galvanised by off the field issues

Derby duo Mason Bennett and Tom Lawrence have both been charged with drink driving
Derby duo Mason Bennett and Tom Lawrence have both been charged with drink driving

Town chief Graeme Jones believes that the off field problems Derby County have faced recently could help galvanise their squad when they host his Luton side tomorrow.

The Rams will walk out at Pride Park for the second time since Tom Lawrence and Mason Bennett were charged with drink-driving after a crash in Derby's Allestree area on September 24, an incident that saw club captain Richard Keogh sustain a serious leg injury, ruling him out for the rest of the campaign.

The pair were dropped for the 3-2 win over Birmingham City, but then both involved by manager Philip Cocu in the 2-2 draw at Barnsley on Wednesday evening, Lawrence starting and winning a penalty, while Bennett came off the bench late on in the second half.

When asked if he thought what had gone on could actually bring the Derby squad closer together, Jones said: “I do, I think Philip’s used it cleverly.

“He brought the two boys into the team, Tom Lawrence started on Wednesday night, he brought the other guy on as a sub, so he’s introduced them away from home, preparing the Derby fans for what might come at the weekend.

“I think it certainly creates emotion, whether that’s positive or negative, but I think any emotion can only be positive, because it gives you something to fight for.

“I think Derby have only lost two games this season, we’re expecting a really, really competitive game and one we’ve got to be ready for.”

Speaking to BBC Radio Derby, Cocu stated the pair certainly weren’t ‘off the hook’ for their behaviour, although urged supporters to remain behind their team if selected for the clash with Luton.

He said: “I hope that our fans will support the whole team.

"I'm not really worried, we have a really loyal fanbase.

“Everybody wants Derby to win on Saturday and, if the support of the fans is there, the chance is much bigger that we'll get the result we want.

"There will always be different opinions and that's OK, we respect that, but we have to make our own decisions and move forward as well.

“It still doesn't change the fact of what we said as a club. They are not off the hook.

"We made it very clear that there will be disciplinary sanctions and actions for the players.

"But you have to move on after a certain time and they weren't included in the last game.

"They are affected by it very much. I spoke the last few days a lot with the players and they were eager to go and play."