The transfer window has been open for just one day, but we’re already getting a huge debut on Thursday night. Wayne Rooney is set to return to English football this week, as he makes his Derby debut against Barnsley.
The former England and Manchester United captain agreed a move to Pride Park back in August. He arrived in a coaching role in November, but with the window open he’s been registered to play for the Rams. Now he returns as a player in front of the Sky cameras this week.
Ahead of Rooney’s big night, we’re taking a closer look at this clash. The forward will be under the microscope at Pride Park, but we’ve looked back on his record to see how he’ll fare here.
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Will Rooney Start Against Barnsley?
The hosts are without five injured players, while they are dealing with injuries to Tom Lawrence and Krystian Bielik, which leaves the Rams short in midfield. That should allow Rooney to step in and take the number 10 role in Derby’s 4-2-3-1 system. However, he has to battle 18-year-old Jason Knight, who started there against Charlton and scored both Derby goals.
Having spent five weeks getting up to speed with the club and the fitness of the squad, Rooney is ready to feature this week. Cocu has suggested that he needs minutes, which should push the former Manchester United striker into the fold from the start this week.
Rooney’s fiery nature should be useful in a clash like this – these are the two highest tacklers per game in the league. However, Cocu will be hoping that his new man keeps his cool, as the former England captain has picked up a hefty 125 yellow cards in his club career. That includes a run of five yellows in his final 13 MLS games in Washington.
Rooney’s Debut Record
Rooney’s breakthrough moment against Arsenal came two months after his senior debut. However, the forward has made a strong start since then. He kicked off a fine international career in speedy fashion, scoring the first of his record-breaking 53 international goals in his sixth cap. The 34-year-old was just half his current age back in 2003 when he scored against Macedonia.
His displays for England set up a move to Manchester United, which started with a bang. Rooney bagged a hat-trick against Fenerbahce, in what was both a United debut and his opening Champions League game.
Given his long spell at United, his next debut came in 2017, although it was a return to Everton. Rooney scored 10 Premier League goals in that single season with the Toffees, including an opening day winner against Stoke.
After a season at Goodison Rooney made the leap to MLS, where he made a fast start too. The striker hit 12 goals in 20 matches after joining mid-season, while he scored in his second start for DC, a 2-1 victory over Colorado. That means that Rooney has scored in his first home start for his last three clubs.
Derby vs Barnsley Predictions
The visitors are unbeaten in their last five games, so they’re heading here looking to cause problems. The Barnsley of a couple of week ago would have been shooting practice for Rooney and co. Now they make this trip fired up after a couple of results on the road.
While Barnsley are playing well, the hosts have claimed just one win in their last eight games. They have put in some poor displays in that time, while Barnsley have been stern opposition to better sides than the Rams in recent weeks. That had us siding with the visitors in our Derby vs Barnsley Predictions.
Will Rooney Score Against Barnsley?
We’ve backed goals between these two sides, with Barnsley seeing both teams score in six of their last seven matches. However, will Rooney grab a goal? Unsurprisingly, the striker is among the favourites to find the net in this clash.
Derby certainly need the forward to step up, as the Rams are the joint-lowest scorers in the division. They’ve averaged less than a goal per game this season, leaving them only seven points clear of the bottom three. Signing a player of Rooney’s talents is a major boost for the struggling Rams.
The hosts are creating chances, but they aren’t converting them well enough. Despite having over 13 shots per home game, Derby have converted just 9% of those chances. Rooney should help to improve that number, while his record in debuts in recent years has given us faith that he can find the net in this clash. Given the hosts’ scoring woes, there’s extra value to be found backing Rooney to score the opening goal on Thursday night.