Derby County have today confirmed two appointments to the club’s first-team backroom staff.
Academy coach Justin Walker has joined Phillip Cocu’s coaching team as First Team Development Coach, while ex-Rams defender Shane Nicholson has taken up the role of First Team Fitness Coach.
Walker, who is 44 and recorded almost 400 appearances in his professional career, has been part of the Academy coaching set-up for several years and most recently held the position of Professional Development Phase Coach.
He led Derby’s Under-18s to the Under-18 Premier League title in the 2018/19 season, which resulted in the club appearing in the illustrious UEFA Youth League last term.
His role will provide further emphasis on the individual development of Derby’s professional players.
Discussing Walker’s appointment, Cocu said: “Justin has had ten years in the Academy, where he has done a great job, and now he is part of the first-team staff and he will work on the development of the players.
“Part of his role will see him produce individual development plans, watch the games of different ages groups and have conversations with different coaches about the development.
“There will be a real focus on the individual part of each player. I think that is an important position.”
Nicholson, who is 50, will add further expertise and experience to the club’s existing fitness team.
Nicholson played 87 times for Derby between 1992 and 1996 and made almost 600 career appearances in the professional game at left-back.
He played in 20 of Derby’s opening 27 games of the promotion-winning 1995/96 campaign under Jim Smith at the Baseball Ground, before departing to join West Bromwich Albion.
Born in Newark-on-Trent, Nicholson played professionally until he was 38 and upon his retirement he was appointed as Chesterfield’s rehabilitation and fitness coach.
Nicholson has been a familiar face around Pride Park Stadium of late after joining the RamsTV team as a pundit on matchdays. In addition to that role, Nicholson has in recent years been working as a personal trainer specialising in group training in Derby.
Discussing Nicholson’s appointment, Cocu said: “Shane’s appointment as First Team Fitness Coach will see him work with the rest of the physical department, which is led by Steve Haines and is responsible for the conditioning of our players during the week and on matchdays.
“Shane is a former Derby County player and has been around the club over the last few years, so he knows a lot about the club already.
“He understands the players’ needs from his time as a professional footballer, as well as his experience and knowledge from a physical aspect.”
Both Walker and Nicholson have taken up their new positions with immediate effect.