Writer: Peter Simcox
Date:Monday June 4 2007
The Rams search for Premiership players continues with Billy Davies reportedly set to raid West Ham United for £2million-rated winger Matthew Etherington.
The Rams boss is keen to strengthen the squad capable of holding its own in the Premiership following their promotion, via the play-offs last week.
The Rams will have some competition for Etherington`s services with Wigan also interested. It could be a double swoop by the Rams from the Hammers with 24-year-old Tyrone Mears also in the pipeline following his successful loan spell at Pride Park last season, and his superb game in the play-off finals especially.
It is thought 25-year-old Etherington would jump at the chance of a move away from the Upton Park, having lost his place in the side to Luis Boa Morte's.
Wigan chairman Dave Whelan has promised his boss Chris Hutchings up to £20million to spend on new players in an attempt to prevent Latics struggling like they did last season. Therefore the Rams could well be out bid for Etherington's services if it came down to an auction.
But Davies has said publicly he will not rush into signing players as Derby County prepare for life in the Premiership.
Davies says Derby are two or three weeks behind the other clubs when it comes to planning for the 2007-08 campaign because of their involvement in the play-offs but says there is no panic. He aims to strengthen the squad and the number of players being linked with a move to Pride Park has already reached double figures.
Etherington is just one of a number of players linked to a move to Pride Park. They are strikers David Nugent, James McFadden, Robert Earnshaw and Francis Jeffers along with midfielders Michael Tonge, Jobi McAnuff, and Lee Hendrie. Defenders who have been mentioned in reports include Liam Ridgewell, Claude Davis, Chris Riggott and Sami Hyypia, as well as Hearts' goalkeeper Craig Gordon.
It`s true Davies has targets in mind but says nothing can happen until he has sat down with the board and discussed how much he will have to spend, and there is also the little problem Davies has behind the scenes at Pride Park
Davies said: "'The great thing about the play-offs is getting there and playing in the semi-finals and the final.
'They are fantastic memories and it is a great way to win promotion but the downside is that your season ends on May 28.
'The play-offs add three weeks on to your season and it means we are behind other clubs with regards to building for the new campaign.
'I felt at the start of last season we started chasing new signings a little bit early but we had to because of the size of the squad. We had to get players in.
'This time, no matter the timescale, we have to take it slow.
'We have to be methodical and precise when picking players.
'We have to be spot-on with our investments to make sure we build this club up for the Premier League in the right manner.
'There will be no rush signings, we cannot afford rush signings.
'We cannot afford to panic because the clock is ticking towards the start of the season.
'We have to be so clever, so sure on who we are bringing to the club to play at this level.
'That is very, very important.'
Date:Monday June 4 2007
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