Paul Simpson: Derby County will fight to keep young stars

Coach Paul Simpson says Derby will do all they can to keep their young stars.

A Rams side including England Under-21 international Will Hughes and Republic of Ireland midfielder Jeff Hendrick finished third in the Championship but lost to QPR in the play-off final.

"We're fully aware there are going to be clubs knocking on the door for players, and we've just got to make sure we don't answer it," said Simpson.

"They're enjoying their football, and hopefully we'll be able to keep them."

The Rams were helped by a large contingent of young players, with Chelsea's Patrick Bamford, Liverpool's Andre Wisdom and George Thorne of West Brom all playing their part during the season.

And Simpson says the momentum gained through the campaign will drive them forward into next season.

Young Rams

The average age of Derby's starting eleven for the play-off final against QPR was 24.7 years old - the Hoops' was 29.5.

He added: "We want to make sure this football club keeps building and keeps getting stronger.

"If the opportunity comes next season to get into the Premier League, we will be better equipped for it.

"We won't have to make many changes, and we'll be hoping to challenge for the top places again next season."

Derby had a bid for 21-year-old West Brom loanee George Thorne turned down this week, and Simpson says there is no pressure to sell their young stars.

"From the conversations I've had with the owners and Sam Rush, we want to have a go again next season," he added.

"Myself, Eric Steele and Steve McClaren haven't come here to just have a play at it and see if we can do something. We want to try and develop the whole football club, and get the best young players in like Bamford, Thorne and Wisdom.

"We want to show their parent clubs that we can develop them, and preferably make them our own players that will help us in the long run."