Simpson pleased to see Whitbread remain with Derby for the rest of the season.

Paul Simpson says the decision to extend Zak Whitbread’s loan until the end of the season adds further ‘security’ to Derby County’s defensive options.

29-year-old Whitbread joined Derby on a three-month loan from fellow Championship side Leicester City at the end of September, which was yesterday extended until the end of the campaign.

Whitbread started three successive games before picking up a calf strain in Derby’s 3-2 win at Watford which ruled him out of action for eight weeks.

He has, however, returned to action in recent weeks and has been an unused substitute in the recent matches against Huddersfield Town, Barnsley and Wigan Athletic.

Simpson, Derby’s First Team Coach, believes Whitbread will provide extra central defensive cover and further options for Head Coach Steve McClaren to choose from in what he insists is a key area of the Rams’ side.

He said: “Zak has been brilliant when he’s played and he’s been unfortunate to be out injured for the last few weeks.

“It was disappointing for him, and us, to have a spell out of action but he’s back fit now and been on the bench for the last three games.

“Zak gives us good security in terms of defensive options; especially with Richard Keogh being out with a knee injury at the moment.

“Michael Keane has stepped in alongside Jake Buxton, who has been a rock for us, but Zak gives us cover beyond that and especially from a left-sided centre-half point of view.

“We’re pleased Zak has agreed to stay with us for the rest of the season because he started his time with us well and he’s got good experience too, which is always vital during the second half of the season.”

The former Liverpool, Millwall and Norwich defender made a scoring start to his career for Derby, after finding the back of the net in the 4-4 draw with Ipswich at the beginning of October.

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