Having conceded two late goals to Peterborough United at the weekend, Wayne Rooney had a major job on his hands when it came to lifting his Derby squad ahead of the visit to Hull City.
However, aided by new arrivals Phil Jagielka and Sam Baldock, the Rams posted their first league win of the season courtesy of the latter’s debut goal.
A combined age of 75 between Jagielka and Curtis Davies means that they will not be regarded as a long-term defensive partnership, but their experience proved invaluable in edging out potential rivals for relegation.
While more free transfers will inevitably come through the door over the coming two weeks, Rooney can start to feel confident that he has a squad capable of avoiding the drop.
Although these two sides currently have the same amount of points, Neil Warnock will expect Middlesbrough to be competing at the right end of the standings.
That said, their 3-2 reverse at home to Queens Park Rangers exposed problematic areas and a lack of strength in depth when having to contend with injuries.
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On another day, Jonny Howson would not have put through his own net for the equaliser, but Warnock will be concerned at the manner of the capitulation that followed.
Boro have now conceded eight goals across four matches in all competitions, leaving it likely that Luke Daniels will be handed his debut between the sticks at the weekend.
However, Middlesbrough require more than just Matt Crooks and Uche Ikpeazu, who have scored all but one of the team’s goals, making contributions at the other end of the pitch