The Football League Paper|December 8 2019
CHRIS Martin is such a familiar sight in the colours of Derby County that it is easy to forget he began the season as Phillip Cocu’s third-choice striker.
Two-and-a-half seasons away from Pride Park and a lengthy battle with ulcerative colitis had condemned the 31-year-old to little more than a watching brief.
Nigel Pearson loaned him to Fulham. Gary Rowett to Reading. Frank Lampard, who led the Rams to the playoffs last year, sent Martin to Hull City with nary a chance to prove his worth.
So when Cocu installed Martyn Waghorn as the spearhead of his 4-3-3 formation in August, it appeared the end was nigh.
But having impressed for the Under-23s and returned to the first-team with a late equaliser against Leeds in September, it is now Martin leading the line - and Derby look a far slicker unit for his muscular presence.
Martin is no longer the prolific marksman who notched successive 20-goal seasons under Steve McClaren. Pre-weekend, he hadn’t scored since October and what meagre pace he possessed has been diminished by age and illness.
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December 8 2019