DERBY COUNTY Head Coach Paul Warne praised the performance of Jason Knight after his promotion-chasing side won 5-0 at home to Morecambe on Saturday.
The result leaves the Rams fourth in League One and Knight was one of six Irish players involved for the hosts, with Conor Hourihane, David McGoldrick, Eiran Cashin, and James Collins also starting, while Norwich loanee Tony Springett came off the bench.
The 21-year-old has been linked with a move away from Derby in recent times, with the player’s contract due to expire at the end of the season (though the club have the option to extend it for another year), but Knight’s display yesterday suggested he has not been too affected by the speculation.
“His energy and drive in and out of possession is, at times, unplayable,” Warne told the club’s official website when asked about Knight, who was making his 150th appearance for the Rams.
“It looks more noticeable the longer the game goes on. Even I could run around with him for 20 seconds but for 90 minutes I couldn’t, and that’s what he gives. He gives the ball through the edges, through the lines. He drives the team on. He’s some player, some competitor and it’s a joy to watch him in his form at the moment.”
Knight was far from the only Irish player to impress with Collins and McGoldrick both scoring from the penalty spot and the latter finishing up with three goals.
It was the former Ireland international’s third hat trick this season and the 35-year-old has now registered 15 goals in all competitions since the beginning of the campaign.
“He’s okay,” said Warne. “He needs to work on a lot of parts of his play, but he obviously adds something, doesn’t he? The goal in the first half gives us a boost. It’s a bigger psychological blow than it looks because they go in and they’ve done really well… So that goal is crucial.
Get Murray Kinsella’s exclusive analysis of Ireland’s Six Nations campaign this spring
“And then for him to win a penalty and score another couple was pretty good, and even his second goal is not an easy finish. You have to concentrate on getting your contact right.
“But I’m really pleased for Didzy, if you score a hat-trick it’s quite a nice way to come off the pitch after 68 minutes. But we have another game in a week, he’s only trained two days in about 10 so now was perfect for that. But really pleased for him, he’s a good bloke and he wants the team to do well. He’s a bit of a hero for some of them in there.
“The best thing of the game for me was Collo giving Didzy the ball for his hat-trick [for the penalty] — strikers aren’t normally that generous, so that was a nice touch. And then Collo gets his goal as well.”