Striker pens a season-long loan deal with Derby County.

Derby County have moved to strengthen their attacking options ahead of the 2014/15 season with the signing of Blackburn Rovers striker Leon Best.

Best, 27, has joined on a season-long loan deal from the Rams’ Sky Bet Championship rivals.

A Republic of Ireland international with seven full caps to his name, Best will provide strong competition for a first-team place in the central striking role within Head Coach Steve McClaren’s squad.

McClaren said: “I’m extremely pleased that we have been able to sign Leon Best on loan for the season.

“He is a player with Premier League and Championship experience, knows how to score goals and he will provide a different option in our attacking armoury.”

He added: “We have been keen to add to our frontline during the summer and Leon is someone that we have discussed at length.

“I’ve spoken to the player and believe he views this loan move as a fresh start, and I can sense he is determined to make the most of the opportunity.”

Nottingham-born Best was on the books as a schoolboy at Notts County before being snapped up by Southampton in 2004.

He made his Premier League bow in September 2004 against Newcastle United, before spending time out on loan at Queens Park Rangers to gain first-team experience away from St Mary’s.

The 2005/06 campaign saw Best enjoy two separate spells on loan at Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship, with his first-ever career goal coming in a 1-1 draw against Hull City in August 2005.

Loan periods at AFC Bournemouth and Yeovil Town in League 1, which provided 13 goals in 32 appearances combined, saw Best return to Southampton in the closing weeks of the season and score a further four goals as the Saints reached the Championship Play-Offs.

In the summer of 2007, Best joined Coventry City for £650,000 and went on to make over 100 appearances for the Sky Blues, scoring on 23 occasions.

His performances in the early months of the 2009/10 season, in which he scored on ten occasions, led to a £1.5 Million move to Newcastle United, who went on to secure the Championship title and make an immediate return to the top flight.

In 2010/11, after recovering from a knee injury, Best scored six times in 12 appearances in the Premier League – including a hat-trick in a 5-0 thrashing of West Ham United at St James’ Park – and went on to remain a regular in the squad for the following campaign.

In the summer of 2012, Best joined Blackburn Rovers for £3 Million, following their relegation from the top flight. However, he suffered a knee injury soon after his arrival and was limited to just eight appearances in the 2012/13 campaign.

Best scored Blackburn’s opening goal of the 2013/14 season last August, ironically against Derby in a 1-1 draw, before moving out on loan to Sheffield Wednesday for the closing months of the season, where he scored four times in 12 starts for the Owls.

The first of his seven international caps for the Republic of Ireland came in May 2009 against Nigeria, and he went on to feature in a handful of 2010 World Cup Qualification matches.

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