sport

Ward could return for derby

Jamie Ward could return to the Derby starting line-up against East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest at the weekend.

Ward has been struggling with a hamstring problem since limping out of the reverse fixture at the City Ground on September 30.

After a failed comeback at Charlton over the Christmas period, Ward returned to the Derby squad against Brighton on Saturday and was thrown into the action shortly before half-time.

The diminutive forward came through the game on the south coast and he is now in the frame to start at Pride Park, provided he suffers no reaction.

"It was great to see Jamie back out there," said Derby boss Nigel Clough after his side's 2-1 defeat at the Amex Stadium.

"We were a bit reluctant to bring him on just before half-time. We were 2-0 down and we didn't want to take any undue chances. But you also want to try to get something from the game and he got us going a bit in the second half.

"He is closer to starting now. Hopefully, he will have a good week's training and be ready for Saturday. He'll be available to start, we hope, and we'll consider it."

Highly-rated teenage midfielder Will Hughes, meanwhile, is an early injury concern for Derby.

Hughes missed training last week with a sore back and he took a hefty knock during the 2-1 defeat at Brighton.

Clough is keeping his fingers crossed that the 17-year-old's injury settles in the next few days with Forest due at Pride Park for a lunchtime kick-off.

"He is extremely uncomfortable, it's very sore," said Clough. "He got a knee in the back from an aerial challenge - that was another one (foul) the referee missed.

"Will doesn't usually stay down. He gets whacks and gets straight back up again, so when he does stay down you get a little bit concerned about him."

Meanwhile, Craig Bryson was absent for a fourth consecutive game at Brighton on Saturday due to a knee injury and the midfielder remains a doubt for the Forest fixture.

Clough added: "He certainly couldn't have played at Brighton. He's got a chance for the weekend but, ideally, it's a two or three-week job. We'll get him moving towards the middle of this week and see if his knee has settled down."