Defender edging closer to a return after a 'good week' of training.

Steve McClaren has hinted that defender Richard Keogh could make an immediate return to the Derby County squad for Saturday’s clash with Brighton & Hove Albion at the iPro Stadium.

The Republic of Ireland international centre-back has missed Derby’s last five matches after suffering a medial ligament injury in his knee during the 3-1 win over Doncaster Rovers just before Christmas.

27-year-old Keogh has stepped up his workload this week by returning to training and McClaren is deliberating whether or not to hand him an instant recall to his matchday squad.

He told Rams Player: “Richard is a leader and it’s good to have him back.

“He’s an important player and there’s a decision to make whether or not he returns to the squad.

“The team has done brilliantly without him in recent weeks.

“He’s had a good week of training and it’s nice to have him back.”

Keogh has made 72 appearances for Derby since joining from Coventry City in the summer of 2012, scoring on five occasions.

Watch Steve McClaren’s full pre-match interview on Rams Player.

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