Rams star impresses boss and earns Maguire comparison
Derby boss Phillip Cocu says Krystian Bielik did well at centre-back against Scunthorpe United and Gianfranco Zola has compared the Pole to Harry Maguire.
Cocu named the ex-Arsenal player in Derby County’s line-up for the Carabao Cup first round tie against League Two opposition on Tuesday.
The Dutchman made 11 changes to the team that had been held to a goalless draw by Swansea City in the Championship a few days earlier.
Asked was it always the plan to make changes, Cocu said: “Not always, but we had a few minor injuries, or players who were not fit, like I said before the game.
“If you go and play this game when you’re not fit, I think it can be dangerous – you can get a serious injury, and that’s something we don’t want.
“And there were also a few players who were ready to play 90 minutes – Jack Marriott, Mason Bennett (who almost played 90) and Krystian Bielik, who felt well.
“We put him at centre-back, because it’s a little bit more easy to get minutes there than in midfield. He did very well.”
Zola, who used to manage Bielik when he was in charge at Birmingham City, reckons he reminds him of the world’s most expensive defender.
Bielik could become the Rams’ record purchase if various add-ons are triggered after he signed for around £8 million earlier this month, but that will still fall well short of Manchester United’s layout for Maguire.
The Polish Under-21 international helped keep a clean sheet as Derby set up a second round Carabao Cup tie with arch-rivals Nottingham Forest later this month with a 1-0 win at Glanford Park.
“In a way, a very small way, he is similar to Harry Maguire,” Zola told The Athletic.
“He’s very progressive with the ball, he’s not afraid of bringing the ball forward and making a pass.”