Wayne Rooney says he’s relishing having some selection dilemmas ahead of Derby County’s upcoming fixtures.
Rooney added five new players to his squad on Transfer Deadline Day earlier this month to add more depth to the Rams’ squad for the final three months of the 2020/21 campaign.
Teden Mengi, Lee Gregory, George Edmundson, Beni Baningime and Patrick Roberts all arrived on loan for the remainder of the campaign to provide competition for places across the side.
With packed Sky Bet Championship schedule between now and 20th March, with 11 matches to play in that time, every member of the squad will be required to play their part in pushing Derby up the table.
Rooney accepts as a result he will have some decisions to make and in turn have some disappointed players at not getting match minutes – but says the onus is on everyone to make it as difficult as possible to leave them out the side.
“There are lots of games coming up and I am happy with the squad now,” Rooney told RamsTV ahead of Saturday's home game against Middlesbrough (3pm kick-off).
“I have a bigger squad and have got more options in terms of how we play, which players play and it makes it a little bit harder for me, but better for the team.
“Players will be disappointed through not playing, but it is on them to show me when they come on or when they do play or in training to show me that they deserve to play.”
Edmundson is close to full fitness after underdoing hernia surgery in January at his parent club Rangers.
The centre-back completed his first full training session with Derby on Thursday and while he is not available for selection just yet, Rooney says he isn’t far away.
“George has trained today and it was his first full session,” Rooney said. “He went through a bit of an injury at Rangers but he’s close. It will probably be a bit too soon on Saturday for selection.”
Forward Tom Lawrence is still not available due to an ankle problem which has seen him out of action since mid-December.
Rooney says the Welsh international has had a minor setback in his rehabilitation work but is still to step things up again next week with a view to returning to action sooner rather than later.
“Tom has had another little set-back so he will start back outside on grass next week and hopefully we can start building strength up,” he said.
“He’s been out for a while now but hopefully he won’t be too far away.”
Polish international Krystian Bielik recently sustained anterior cruciate ligament damage in his right knee in Derby’s last home game against Bristol City at the end of January.
Rooney admits the midfielder will be a big miss in the months ahead but insists he will have all the support he needs from the club.
“Krystian is disappointed and upset, we all are,” Rooney said. “He has to stay positive and we have to stay positive around him for him. We will give him all the help he needs to get back fitter and stronger than before."