Youngsters gave heart and soul - 22/10/2002
I thought the lads gave everything they had against Nottingham Forest and could have won the game having been the better side in the second half. They can all be proud of the effort they put in, but I'd like to mention the performance of two of them - Rob Lee and Lee Grant. Rob was superb, I think it was his best game for the club. When a player can make the game look so easy, as Rob does, it shows he has real quality. I'm just glad I kept pestering him on the telephone to come and sign for Derby. I knew what he was capable of and what he could offer the club. It was a good way for him to sign off before his well-earned rest today. I also thought Granty did really well in his first start for the club. The manager has no problems or worries about putting the youngsters in and has proved that with Adam Murray, Adam Bolder, Ian Evatt, Lewis Hunt, Izale McLeod and now Granty. With Mart Poom as the number one goalkeeper, Granty has had to be patient and wait for a chance. He handled the situation really well and showed that he has a bright future ahead of him.
Whatever may be happening on the financial side of the club, the future of this club on the field will look really healthy when some of these young players get 30 or 40 more games under their belts. There was plenty of passion in the game against Forest, a good atmosphere inside the stadium and a lot of pride at stake. I would have loved to have been out on the pitch rather than completing my three-match suspension. I was impressed with Forest. They tried to play football from the back and, like us, have some good young players. We were certainly better in the second half and had a couple of chances to take all three points. A very good tackle prevented Izale from probably notching his first goal and then Mally could not get his left-foot half volley on target. The ball fell slightly behind him and it was not an easy chance. Forest's young centre-back Michael Dawson has been earning some praise. I saw him in a Reserve team game at Pride Park last season and he impressed me then and again last Sunday.
I received an interesting telephone call on the morning of the Forest game from a Mr Stuart Pearce. He just said: "I hope you get beat and have a look at the lad at the back, Dawson." It was great to hear from Stuart who I spent some time with at Newcastle. He, too, has obviously taken note of Dawson. He is a big lad, there is a presence about him, his is composed and vocally very good. Playing alongside somebody with Des Walker's experience certainly helps the young lad. Des will talk him through games - and Des can talk, as anybody who has interviewed him will tell you.
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