Phillip Cocu says Derby County’s Matt Clarke, Tom Huddlestone and Graeme Shinnie are making good progress on the road to recovery.

The trio have been out of action over the last few months owing to injuries but are making steps in the right direction.

Clarke and Shinnie have been missing since mid-November with knee and hamstring injuries respectively, while Huddlestone has been sidelined since early October with a hamstring problem.

Centre-back Clarke, who injured his knee in the local derby clash at Nottingham Forest last month, is back in training with Derby’s squad.

The 23-year-old is ‘not far off’ according to Cocu but the 49-year-old has confirmed he will not be available for the Boxing Day trip to Wigan Athletic.

Cocu told RamsTV: “As I said last week, Matt is coming on extremely well. He is training in all the sessions with the team now and he looks good and is confident.

“For the next game, at Wigan on Boxing Day, it is too soon because he needs some sessions with the group to get involved in the game again. We are not far off and we are very pleased to see it.”

Huddlestone is stepping up his rehabilitation work after almost three months out of action.

The experienced midfielder, who turns 33 later this month, has made ten appearances for the Rams this season.

While he is back doing work on the grass, Cocu says he will still need some time to build up his sharpness.

Scotland international Shinnie, meanwhile, had made seven successive appearances prior to being injured in the 1-0 win over Preston North End after the November international break.

The midfielder is doing some running exercises but will still need some time before returning to training.

He said: “Tom Huddlestone was involved in part of the group session today, which is good.

“He will need a few more weeks also to work on his fitness and get involved in group sessions. He is progressing well.

“We are being a little bit careful as he is a senior player and we need to make sure he comes back in a good way so he can play the rest of the season, so we are positive about him.

“Graeme Shinnie will need a few more weeks to come back, he is on the grass running.

“It was a serious injury for him. He is an extremely hard worker so he will be back.”

Forward Mason Bennett remains out of action with an ankle injury which required surgery and midfielder George Evans will be out for up to ten weeks with a calf injury, while the versatile Ikechi Anya remains out of action after injuring his calf in pre-season.