STEVE McClaren has admitted on-loan Blackburn Rovers striker Leon Best’s future at Derby County is ‘open for discussion’.

There has been speculation that the Rams are ready to send the 28-year-old back to Rovers after signing Darren Bent on loan from Aston Villa.

And when asked whether he will activate the break clause in Best’s season-long deal this month McClaren refused to rule it out.


The Derby head coach said: “That will be open for discussion now. We will talk about that.”

Best made only his third start of the campaign on Saturday as the Rams won 1-0 at home to non-league Southport in the FA Cup.

The Republic of Ireland international, who has yet to score in 20 appearances this season, has saw his opportunities limited by the form of Chris Martin.

The Scotland international took his tally for the term up to 17 after scoring Derby’s injury-time winner against Southport.

McClaren believes Best, who came off for Martin in the 63rd minute, has been ‘unlucky’.

He said: “Besty has been unfortunate because he has not played and so that little bit of rustiness and lack of sharpness was there against Southport, although he was unlucky on a couple of occasions.

“We will have to have a look at the situation and talk with Leon.

“I have to say he has been a model professional. He has come in, worked and not been an ounce of trouble. His attitude has been great every day.

“He has just been unfortunate to be behind Chris Martin, who has been incredible in the first half of the season.

“Besty has not had many chances and not really took them when he has been given them.”

McClaren was full of praise for on-loan Rovers keeper David Raya after he produced a heroic performance for Southport on Saturday.

The 19-year-old has now returned to Brockhall after his stint with the Conference Premier outfit came to an end.

Southport boss Gary Brabin is not hopeful of keeping Raya.

He said: “David is a top keeper in the making and we’d love to have him back for longer. With us having this run in the FA Cup, though, even more people will have noticed the lad.”