Derby County manager Wayne Rooney highlighted Manchester United loanee Teden Mengi’s physicality as a key reason as to why he made his full debut for the Championship side on Tuesday night.
Derby beat Wycombe Wanderers 2-1 with an added-time goal from Andre Wisdom, moving up to 16th position in the Championship table, six points clear of the relegation zone.
Mengi, who can play at full-back or centre-back, had to wait patiently for his first start, as Nathan Byrne and Lee Buchanan had been consistent starters in the full-back positions – Byrne had started the previous 11 league matches and Buchanan had started nine of the previous 11.
After the win, Rooney was asked his decision to change his full-backs.
“With Teden and Fozzy [Craig Forsyth], we knew they [Wycombe] put a lot of balls into your box,” he said, as reported by Derbyshire Live. “To go with the two lads they are obviously a bit more physical than Lee and Nathan, and it was a bit more height.
“I felt if we could do that, and try not to concede from set plays, then be brave on the ball and play some good football, we’d have a great chance of winning the game. Fozzy and Teden did well for us defensively and allowed us in the last 10 minutes to bring Nathan and Lee on.”
Here’s what United and Derby fans said following Mengi’s outing.
Upon his decision to move to Derby in the first place, Mengi explained why he wanted to make the move.
Speaking earlier this month about his decision to move to Derby, Mengi said: “At the end of the day, it is down to the player to make the decision,”
“I did have the conversations with the coaches and they thought this would be brilliant for me and brilliant for my development as I am still young in the game, but I will try to thrive for more.
“I think I did well in the Under-23s last season so I think I need a new challenge.
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“He [Rooney] has been brilliant. As soon as I found out Derby were interested, Wayne was on the phone. He was telling me what the club is about and what he wants from me. He has been brilliant with me so far.
“When I first heard Derby County were interested, it was a no-brainer for me to be in the Championship against good opponents and to be playing men’s football.”