Gary Bowyer has joined Derby County Under-23s’ coaching staff ahead of the start of the 2020/21 season.

The 49-year-old takes up the role of Professional Development Phase Coach within Derby’s Academy set-up with immediate effect, following Craig Short’s departure to take up the vacant assistant manager’s position at Oxford United last month.

Bowyer’s primary role will see him work closely with Senior Professional Development Phase Coach Pat Lyons to oversee the running of Derby’s Under-23 side and his appointment will see him work in the Rams’ youth set-up for the second time in his coaching career.

He spent four years working in Derby’s Academy between 2000 and 2004, during which time played a key role in the development of the likes of Tom Huddlestone, Lee Holmes, Lee Grant, Marcus Tudgay, Lee Camp and Pablo Mills.

Bowyer, a former professional at Hereford United, Nottingham Forest and Rotherham United, went on to join Blackburn Rovers as their Under-18s Coach upon leaving Derby and, after two spells in Caretaker Charge in the 2012/13 campaign, he went on to become their first-team manager in May 2013.

He remained in charge at Ewood Park until in November 2015, before returning to management in June 2016 at Blackpool after a brief break. He guided the Seasiders to promotion in his first season in charge, in 2016/17, via the League 2 Play-Off Final at Wembley Stadium against Exeter City.

Bowyer left Blackpool ahead of the 2018/19 season and went on to have a spell in charge of Bradford City, between March 2019 and February 2020.

Reacting to the appointment, Derby County’s Academy Director Darren Wassall, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Gary Bowyer back to Derby County to work with our Under-23s. This is a coup for our Academy and young players.

“Gary is a very experienced and talented coach, both at youth level and as a manager. He knows what Derby County is about from his previous association with the club and we believe this is a shrewd appointment for the highest age group in our Academy.

“He has almost 300 games to his name as a manager, as well as many more at Academy level. He will have a really important role to play, alongside the rest of the staff, in passing on his knowledge and understanding to our players.”

Derby’s Under-23s will begin their 2020/21 Premier League 2 Division 1 season with a trip to Manchester City on Saturday (1pm kick-off).