Rowett resigned to Derby losing Russell to the States

Manager Gary Rowett, who has confirmed that Derby are set to lose Scottish international Johnny Russell. (PHOTO BY: James Williamson)
Manager Gary Rowett, who has confirmed that Derby are set to lose Scottish international Johnny Russell. (PHOTO BY: James Williamson)
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Manager Gary Rowett admitted this week that he is resigned to promotion-chasing Derby County losing Scottish international Johnny Russell.

The 27-year-old Russell has been a key figure in helping to lift Derby into second in the Sky Bet Championship table, making 25 appearances.

But he is out of contract in the summer, and has rejected two new deals to stay with the Rams as he seeks pastures new in the USA.

“I have a good chat with Johnny, and he wishes to pursue offers to play in the MLS (Major League Soccer),” said Rowett in an interview with BBC Radio Derby.

“That is his aim, and that is what he wants to do. He has tuned down our contract offers, and so we have to look at the situation.

“We always try to find a solution for players, but obviously we want everyone here to be committed to what we are doing in the last 18 league games of the season.”

Rowett said Russell’s decision was sure to have an impact on his team selection for the rest of the campaign.

“It’s a difficult scenario because every player has a choice whether to sign a contract or not,” the boss added. “But if you feel a player is not going to re-sign, then you look at that and ask if it’s a good, healthy thing for the team.

“In truth, it hasn’t really changed our plans because this has been rumbling on for two or three weeks. But we will look to see if we can strengthen in that position.”

On the eve of the January transfer-window deadline, Rowett also spoke about possible new signings, stressing he was confident the club would back any market moves that he wanted to make.

“If we can bring in a player that might make a difference, I am sure the club would support it, whether that be on loan or a permanent signing,” he said. “But we have to be careful not to dive into deals for the sake of it. We don’t want to be left with a player for three or four years who might be good for three months but maybe not for a longer period.”

Rowett also confirmed that striker Chris Martin was considering an option to join Sunderland.