Stand-in full-back Naylor is determined to fight to keep his place in line-up
By Derby Telegraph | Friday, April 13, 2012, 07:30
YOUNG defender Tom Naylor is hoping to give player-of-the-year John Brayford some serious competition for his place in the Derby County side next season.
Tom Naylor has slotted into the Derby County team well at left-back in the absence of the injury John Brayford.
Brayford has been out of action due to a thigh injury since pulling up during the 4-0 defeat at Southampton in February.
Rams boss Nigel Clough initially used midfielder Paul Green as cover at right-back, before turning to Naylor.
The 20-year-old, who was signed from Mansfield Town in November on an initial loan deal that became permanent in January, has now started the last six games since being handed his full debut in the 2-1 victory at Doncaster Rovers.
He has impressed so far and tasted defeat only once – at Brighton – winning three games and drawing the other two.
Brayford was ever-present last season and was the club's most consistent performer.
But Naylor wants to give Clough a selection headache next term.
"There's always good competition for places, all through the side," said the former Belper Town loanee.
"We've got some good centre-backs, although Barks (Shaun Barker) is out injured at the moment, and John Brayford is a great player.
"He was player of the season last year and thoroughly deserved it, from what I hear.
"So there should be good competition for places next season and, hopefully, I can get in that starting line-up.
"We're all team-mates and we all encourage each other but obviously you want to play, so you do whatever you can to try to get in that side.
"If you're doing well, you keep your place and if you're not, the gaffer sorts it out."
While Naylor has looked comfortable at right-back, it is not necessarily his most established position.
"They signed me as a centre-half but I can do a job at right-back and I don't mind doing a job there," he said.
"As long as I'm playing, I don't mind where."
Having recently broken into the side, Naylor wishes the season was not coming to an end, with the Rams only having four fixtures remaining.
"I want to keep playing football and when the season comes to an end, I'm just getting started," he said.
"So I don't really want the season to end, having got into the side, but the summer does give you a chance to get your feet up and take a bit of a break."
For now, though, Naylor is relishing his early experience of life in the Championship.
"I'm enjoying every game," he said. "I've started six matches now and I'm aiming to get up to 10 by the end of the season.
"To be honest, it has gone better than I expected so far.
"We've had some good results and I think I've done quite well. I'm hoping that continues."