Nationality: Republic of Ireland
By the end of March 2018, Alex Pearce had made just one league appearance all season, but when he was called upon in the following weeks, he displayed all his defensive quality to help Derby to a top-six finish.
With Derby having suffered a disappointing home defeat against Sunderland, the centre-back was called into the side for his first Championship start of the season at Preston North End, and he helped The Rams to get back on track by contributing to a near-perfect rearguard performance.
Pearce is widely regarded as one of the best trainers at the club and it was a testament to his professionalism and quality of preparation that his performance level was so high when he was handed his chance so late in the campaign.
Born in Wallingford, Pearce progressed through the youth system at Reading and signed a three-year professional contract in 2006.
Loan spells at Northampton Town, Bournemouth, Norwich City and Southampton quickly followed, but after that, Pearce established himself as a key player at the Madejski Stadium and helped the Royals to a play-off finish.
Three years later, though, he was the standout player as Reading achieved promotion to the Premier League in 2012.
Pearce has been capped on nine occasions by the Republic of Ireland. He made his debut against Oman in September 2012 and he marked the occasion in style by scoring in a 4-1 victory.
Ironically, he scored his second goal for his country against the same opposition in September 2014.